Article 10 & New Siting Law Concerns

SOS Has Much to Say About New “94-c” Renewable Siting Regulations

12/4/2020
SOS submitted a series of substantial comments to the Office of Renewable Energy Siting to address the Draft Regulations and Uniform Standards and Conditions being proposed by the Office. Included was a cover letter signed by several additional stakeholders across upstate and western New York, expressing their support for these comments. Additionally, 8 appendices were included on various topics.

(For background on 94-c: see below, after description of appendices.)

Click here to read the cover letter.

Appendix A comments on the ORES proposal’s potential to result in adverse noise impacts on those who would be living near large-scale renewable energy projects. Two documents comprise Appendix A, one by our legal counsel Gary Abraham, based on his experience in renewable energy project siting proceedings in New York, and the other by Robert Rand, the principal of Rand Acoustics LLC, in Brunswick, Maine. Mr. Rand has extensive experience in renewable energy project siting proceedings throughout the U.S.
Click here to read Appendix A.

Appendix B comments on the potential impacts of the Draft Regulations and Uniform Standards (the “ORES proposal”) on natural resources. Appendix B was prepared by our consultant Karen Schneller-McDonald, the principal of Hickory Creek Consulting LLC, in Red Hook, New York.
Click here to read Appendix B.

Appendix C, prepared by Gary Abraham, comments on the legally questionable use of different health and safety standards for project “participants”, compared to everyone else.
Click here to read Appendix C.

Appendix D includes comments by Gary Abraham on the need for additional protections from shadow flicker, the highly annoying strobing of sunlight through moving wind turbines. Appendix D also included comments on the visual impacts and design drawings (including setbacks) prepared by Kate Kremer, SOS Vice-President.
Click here to read Appendix D.

Appendix E offers a brief comment prepared by Gary Abraham on ORES’s obligations under New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) when proposing new regulations, and on how the draft regulations conflict with the State’s policies for the preservation of agricultural and natural resources, set forth in the State Constitution.
Click here to read Appendix E.

Appendix F comments on the need to align the siting of large-scale renewable energy projects with the siting of transmission improvements, in order to improve the ability of generation projects to make a meaningful contribution to the State’s policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These comments were prepared by Gary Abraham.
Click here to read Appendix F.

Appendix G, prepared by Kate Kremer, comments on draft regulation procedures and on several application exhibits as proposed in the draft regulations. She enumerates revisions needed to ensure stakeholders who would be asked to host large-scale renewable energy projects can participate in the review of siting proposals.
Click here to read Appendix G.

Appendix H comments on the proposed Uniform Standards, and argues that the need to expedite siting does not require weakening substantive protections for the environment and rural communities developed under Public Service Law, Article 10. These comments address subjects not covered in other appendices and were prepared by Kate Kremer.
Click here to read Appendix H.

Background:
In February 2020, after all debate on the New York State budget had ended, Governor Cuomo added an amendment to the budget titled the Accelerated Renewable Energy Act or “94-c”.  It proposed replacing the existing large scale renewables siting process (Article 10 under the Department of Public Service) with a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) to speed up the approval of these projects, even if it means that local laws are waived and environmental studies are limited.

This Act, along with everything else attached to the budget, was passed in April 2020.

Under the 94-c Act, the newly formed ORES quickly drafted regulations and uniform standards so they can begin to approve large scale renewable projects. These regulations were drafted with such haste and are so heavily tilted in favor of the developers that it was hard to know where to start.

SOS, with six years of participation in the existing siting process and a supportive community, was positioned to respond with substantial comments regarding how the new regulations need to be revised.

More background on the history of Article 10 and the new siting process is contained in our November 7, 2020 newsletter: https://us9.campaign-archive.com/?u=eb5a350ca552b55cc84a08f98&id=38cc7585a6

Gary Abraham
Environmental Attorney, SOS counsel

ARTICLES

9/18/2020
New York proposes rules to speed renewable projects, but local control, other issues could be contentious
Utility Dive, Robert Walton
New York on Wednesday issued proposed regulations for the siting of large-scale renewable projects and “fill out the picture of what a complete permit application will require, and how municipalities may participate in the process”. “Some stakeholders will surely voice concerns around local agencies’ ability to manage project development in their communities”. Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) will accept comments on the proposed regulations through Dec. 7, and has scheduled five public hearings and a pair of virtual meetings to hear concerns about the new rules.

9/5/2020
As New York pushes green energy, localities bristle at loss of control
Buffalo News, Thomas Prohaska
A new law gives New York State government more authority than ever over approvals for large-scale wind and solar energy projects. It states any local law can be overridden if the new office considers it “unreasonably burdensome in view of the targets and the environmental benefits of the proposed major renewable energy facility.”

5/11/2020
New York’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Act Poses Risks to Birds
Joel Merriman, American Bird Conservancy
“We have concerns about how this will be implemented,” says Joel Merriman, ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director. “A combination of aggressive timelines and the potential for automatic approvals at key steps in the process leaves the door open for wind energy facility plans to inadequately address risks to birds.”

4/13/2020
Renewable Energy Act Panned by Local Activists
Benjamin Joe, Lockport Journal
‘Norris said on the floor of the Assembly, “It is critically important to the character of that community for them (local residents) to determine whether or not they want to have a massive, large wind turbine factory in their community, or a massive solar energy facility in their community.
“The locals need to have a voice, a substantial voice. This bill takes away from the individuals to serve on the local siting board. It just tramples on local control.”

01/2020
Ensuring Procedural Justice with Renewable Energy Development
River Residents Against Turbines
Critical Perspectives and Recommendations on the New York State Article 10 Siting Process based on recent events in Albany. At the core are three internationally-endorsed sustainability principles associated with renewable energy development and large-scale project siting: Social License, Procedural Justice, and Resource Localism. Until these principles are incorporated into Article 10, the process will be criticized and project opposition and delays will continue across New York State.

01/23/2020
Governor Cuomo Proposes Faster Article 10 Process
Zoglin Group, Ben Wisniewski
Article 10 is not the only reason it takes 5-10 years to build power plants in New York. Developers spend much of that time acquiring land rights. In addition, applicants control the duration of pre-application negotiations, a significant source of delay in many Article 10 proceedings. Having gained substantial first-hand experience with the Article 10 siting process, I am well aware of its flaws. But the slow-pace of the proceedings is not one of them. If anything, additional time is needed to develop a complete record relating to the many local environmental and economic impacts associated with large-scale renewable energy development.

5/31/2019
Commentary: Energy report has many flaws
Albany Times Union, Gary A. Abraham, Attorney for SOS and other citizen groups in the state.
Mr. Abraham addressed the flaws contained within a recent statement from the New York League of Conservation Voters pertaining to siting renewable energy projects in New York. See his complete response to the League’s recent statement, including an executive summary and detailed analysis HERE.

Please join us

APEX will provide the argument and evidence in favor of the turbines.

This website will provide a thorough presentation of arguments against the turbines, inform people of important dates and provide a forum for discussion. Our task is to provide balance, openness and clarity.

APEX is an out of state corporation that has the potential to gain enormous profits from placement of industrial turbines in Niagara and Orleans Counties. It is not affected by changes in the quality of life or health of local citizens, or the effect on local businesses once binding contracts have been signed. Landowners who agree to lease their land stand to benefit financially and, in addition, towns will be offered financial incentives to move forward with the development. However, ongoing payments will likely not be guaranteed and potential gains are certain to be offset by the loss of substantial rights by individual landowners, loss of tax revenue caused by a decrease in the value of properties including lake properties, and the possible loss of revenue for local businesses as people avoid this industrial zone.

The voice of concerned citizens is crucial to ensure that the well being of all the residents and landowners are protected and that the towns clearly understand the health risks, lifestyle changes, and transformation of the character of the entire area prior to making decisions and signing contracts. Information that is gathered without influence from APEX, and open information about who will profit, will be essential to the integrity of the decision.

… ongoing payments will likely not be guaranteed and potential gains are certain to be offset by the loss of substantial rights by individual landowners, loss of tax revenue caused by a decrease in the value of properties including lake properties, and the possible loss of revenue for local businesses as people avoid this industrial zone.