In lieu of the recent notification by Iberdrola/Avangrid to unearth and push ahead with the Horse Creek wind project for the Towns of Clayton, Orleans, Brownville and Lyme it is worth reviewing comments made by Iberdrola on May 29, 2012 to the Public Service Commission regarding the burden they suffered from local wind laws. Here is one little taste of their dissatisfaction and what likely lies ahead for these towns:
Iberdrola Letter RE: Article 10 Rules and Regulation
"A number of communities have proposed or adopted such requirements in various forms, including proposed setbacks measured in miles from major water bodies, 500-foot setbacks from wetlands, 3,000-foot separation from adjacent properties or between wind turbines. These setbacks do not address environmental or safety concerns. Indeed, there is little or no empirical justification for such significant setbacks; such requirements will simply make it impossible to construct a project in New York."
Iberdrola Letter RE: Article 10 Rules and Regulation
Transcript of Iberdrola Letter RE: Article 10 Rules and RegulationS
May 29, 2012
VIA First Class Mail and Email email@example.com
Hon.Jaclyn A. Brilling
Secretary,New York State Public Service Commission
Three Empire Plaza
Albany,New York 12223-1350
RE: Case 12-F-0036 – In the Matter of the Rules and Regulations of the Board on
Electric Generation Siting and the Environment,contained in 16 NYCRR,Chapter
X,Certification of Major Electric Generating Facilities.
Dear Secretary Brilling:
Iberdrola Renewables submits this letter in supplement to its comments dated April 25,
2012. In these previous comments,Iberdrola Renewables suggested modifications to the
proposed provisions of 16 NYCRR§ 1001.31(e). The proposed modifications establish
sensible review standards that would allow the Siting Board to consider New York siting
precedent and override unreasonable or belated local requirements.
These suggestions reflect actual experience with the evolving siting challenges in the
State. While New York has enacted strong policies favoring development of renewable
energy sources(including wind)and numerous projects have been successfully and
compatibly constructed,a determined nucleus of opposition to such projects has formed.
A strategy which has been increasingly followed by these groups is to focus on key towns
with the aim of revising laws to thwart project development altogether, rather than
establishing appropriate guidelines for development. The following are some examples of
these efforts, which are cropping up with increasing frequency and which should be
quickly rejected in the Article 10 process.
Property Value Guarantees. Some jurisdictions have adopted property value
guarantee requirements. While there are various permutations of this requirement,
it generally applies solely to wind project development ( as opposed to other forms
of development that are often claimed to devalue nearby properties). The
legislation requires the Wind Project developer,presumably over the life of the
project to pay owners for any devaluation in their property value arguably
attributable to the project. There is scant support for the “devaluation” argument
and the weight of present studies rejects this premise. At best,this unique
requirement will invite the sort of claims/litigation exposure that will make a
project unfinanceable and unfeasible.
Required Origin of Project Components. Other proposed provisions require that a
certain percentage of Wind Project components(75% in some cases) must be made
in the US. This requirement has nothing to do with sitting or land use impact
considerations. Moreover,in an increasingly global economy,where most every
commodity is manufactured or composed of manufactured products,from
numerous states and nations,singling out one form of development (wind farms)
for a this requirement is of questionable legality, discriminatory and unfair.
Serial Local Law Modifications. In most upstate communities. Town Board
members serve for relatively short terms(most often 2 years). In a number of cases
this has meant that zoning and siting requirements for wind projects have been
subject to change at each election cycle dependant on the composition of the
Board. A number of recent Iberdrola project proposals (which, like most wind
projects, have long study and review lead times and do not have “vested rights”
regarding existing review standards) have been exposed to potential and repeated
revisions to local law siting requirements.
The potential for constantly shifting review/approval standards and the associated
uncertainty effectively stymies any project review or development progress: It
makes no sense to incur the significant expense of the application or review
process until an applicant can have certainty regarding the finality and longevity of
applicable siting requirements. The Article 10 regulations must adopt provisions
designed to avoid such debilitating “moving target” requirements.
Unreasonable Setback Requirements. A sure way to rule out the potential for wind
farm development is to establish unfounded,unreasonable setback requirements. A
number of communities have proposed or adopted such requirements in various
forms, including proposed setbacks measured in miles from major water bodies,
500-foot setbacks from wetlands,3,000-foot separation from adjacent properties or
between wind turbines. These setbacks do not address environmental or safety
concerns. Indeed, there is little or no empirical justification for such significant
setbacks; such requirements will simply make it impossible to construct a project in
A number of projects have been constructed in New York in accordance with well
defined setback requirements (generally 1,000-1,500 feet from Project components
and adjacent land uses and 100 feet from DEC wetlands). These projects have a
demonstrable history of reliability and compatibility with nearby communities.
Unreasonable Sound Requirements. Project opponents have urged increasingly
low sound thresholds as a means of thwarting potential wind farm development.
Sound study is a complex area and in this complexity, opponents have found
opportunity- advocating for unworkable background threshold sound levels and
modeling protocols which can result in overly conservative sound standards.
Again, the New York DEC sound guidance, as well as experience with sound
standards for successfully operating wind farms is the appropriate touchstone for
this evaluation. Local Laws that propose more stringent requirements are likely
aimed at prohibiting wind farm construction, rather than permitting compatible
Again thank you for the opportunity to comment on these regulations.
Director,Policy and Regulatory Affairs