Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Patricia Ritchie ~ Comment Letter to the Public Service Commission

May 29,2012

Honorable Jaclyn A. Brilling, Secretary
NYS Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 122 12 – 1350

Dear Secretary Brilling:
I am pleased to offer the following comments for filing to be included in the record as part of the public comment period on the proposed regulations regarding the siding of electric generating plants in New York State. While the proposed implementing regulations issued by the Department of Public Service (DPS) under the new Article 10 law allow for more input by the affected localities, I want to express my strong belief that regulations, once finalized, do more than just consider the implementation of local laws.

I voted against the reinstatement of article acts as drafted last year because I felt local government should be able to have a significant say in the siding of power generation plants in their communities. While developers have the ability under the new law to request the Siting Board rule that a local law is unduly burdensome, I would hope that the board take into consideration all comments provided by the host community.

The issue is critically important in relation to the siting of wind turbines. Localities must be able to be a key participant in the siting process and allowed to take into consideration the myriad of issues that wind turbines can present such as aesthetics, tourism, military deployments/maneuvers, and the negative impact on the local economy.

Specifically, it is important that the statute which provides a standard for “overriding” local laws, and the proposed regulations which narrowly interpret that standard, provide local governments with greater standing during the approval process. The fact that the proposed regulations contain three different tests in order to qualify for a local law override, and the siting law does not, is a step in the right direction. However, it is critical that the needs and desires of the local communities play an integral role in the approval process.

With respect to the proposed regulations which allow wind turbines to be moved within 500 feet of their originally identified location, I believe this distance threshold should be drastically reduced. The public needs assurance that if a project is approved, it will be located close to where it is proposed to be.

Finally, I support provisions in the proposed regulations which provide for quasi-judicial review whereby a party can force a hearing by showing that issue is “material and relevant.” It is paramount that these provisions are not deluded or eliminated so that all issues may be addressed prior to the siding and construction of electric generation facilities.

Thank you for your consideration.

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