STATE OF NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE

THREE EMPIRE STATE PLAZA, ALBANY, NY
12223-1350

Internet Address: http://www.dps.state.ny.us

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

GARRYA.BROWN Chairman PATRICIAL.ACAMPORA MAUREEN F. HARRIS ROBERTE.CURRYJR. CHERYL A.BULEY Commissioners

PETER McGOWAN Acting General Counsel

JACLYN A.BRILLING Secretary

February 28, 2008

Richard J. Edsall, Chairman Town Planning Board Town of Cape Vincent 1964 NYS Route 12 E PO Box 680 Cape Vincent, New York 13618

Re:

SEQRA Draft EIS Town of Cape Vincent, Jefferson County BP Alternative Energy Wind Project

Dear Mr. Edsall:

The Department of Public Service (DPS) has reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the BP Cape Vincent Wind Energy Project, as accepted and issued for comment by the Town of Cape Vincent Planning Board. The DEIS for the application by BP Alternative Energy North America Inc., (BP) to develop a 210 megawatt (MW) wind energy project in the Towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme, Jefferson County is insufficient to document the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project.

The DEIS is essentially a status report, listing many studies to be prepared and analyses to be developed in the future. Rather than providing the studies and information identified in the Scoping Document, the DEIS instead relies on documents to be presented in a future Final Environmental Impact Statement. The DEIS does not provide the relevant and material facts upon which decisions are to be made. Such information is critical for adequate public review and comment, and for the identification and consideration of reasonable alternatives and reasonable mitigation measures.

The DEIS does not comport with the Scoping document, which was intended to guide the contents and methodologies of various studies to be undertaken in development and reporting of the DEIS. At this point, DPS recommends that the Lead Agency direct the project developer to proceed with development of significant efforts to develop a Supplemental DEIS which must:

1. Identify specific project component locations, including turbine sites, interconnection facilities, access roads, substations, operations and maintenance facilities, any permanent meteorological tower sites, and any other equipment essential to operation of the proposed project; locations of temporary facilities, such as concrete batch plants and construction yards should also be assessed;

2. Provide detailed analysis of the potential impacts, positive and negative, of the proposed project;

3. Provide analysis of alternative project layouts and scales, and identify the project layout which avoids or minimizes environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable;

4. Identify potential mitigation measures to minimize relevant impacts.

The Supplemental DEIS must address the scoping document requirements, and should specifically provide additional documentation, as requested in prior correspondence including DPS consent to the Town acting as Lead Agency, dated January 12, 2007; and DPS Comments on Draft Scoping Document dated September 12, 2007. (Those documents are attached for your information.) The Supplement must include all the information required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act regulations (6 NYCRR part 617.9) and specifically include an evaluation of consistency with applicable coastal zone policies contained in 19 NYCRR 600.5; and an analysis of cultural resources in the project area of potential effect, and potential impacts of the project on those resources and evaluation of alternatives and reasonable mitigation measures to avoid or minimize those impacts.

DPS acknowledges that the process of analyzing a major project such as the proposed wind power projects within the Town of Cape Vincent is in itself a major undertaking for the project developer to produce, and for the Lead Agency to analyze and review. Further, the need to provide information to the public during a lengthy development process is an important responsibility of both. The acceptance and publication of a DEIS is not, however, the appropriate mechanism for conveying a status report on on-going studies.

Additional specific comments on the DEIS are attached to this letter, please contact Andrew Davis at (518) 486-2853 if you have any questions regarding this correspondence, or if you would like to discuss cooperation on additional environmental reviews.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

Sincerely, James D. Austin, Chief Environmental Certifications & Compliance Office of Energy Efficiency and the Environment

cc:

A. Davis, NYS DPS J. Bonafide, OPRHP S. Tomasik, NYS DEC M. Brower, NYS Ag. & Mkts. P. Penobshek, ERM New York State Department of Public Service Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Statement Cape Vincent Wind Power Project February 28, 2008

The project description and scale identified in the DEIS is not specific, indicating at various locations in the document that from 86 to 140 wind turbines are under analysis, and that a range of

turbine sizes from 1.5 to 2.5 megawatts are under consideration. There is no map of project turbine array location or individual turbine sites under evaluation. Some assumptions regarding facilities locations must have been made to develop the visual assessment visibility mapping and photographic simulations. It is not possible to adequately assess environmental and infrastructure impacts including, but not limited to, wetlands impacts, visual impacts, noise impacts, microwave beam interference, turbine lighting, and related factors, without identifying footprint locations of turbines, interconnection lines, access roads, and other facilities with some degree of specificity. DPS recognizes that actual site plan details may not be available at the stage of siting studies. The DEIS needs to be supplemented to identify facilities locations and predictable environmental impacts associated with study locations.

Table 1.1 should be amended to include parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law §14.09 review of archaeological and historic resources.

Section 1.1.3 discussion of power generation facilities should be supplemented to identify the range of turbines and specifications under evaluation. Turbine size and noise generation vary by make and model. Larger output turbines can achieve similar or greater project generation output with a smaller number of turbines.

Section 1.2.2 Site preparation discussion suggests that tower and access roadway locations will be developed based on data which will be collected during ecological, geotechnical, and cultural resource surveys. These are the type of studies and data which are intended to be identified and analyzed in a DEIS, which is then subject to agency and public review and comment. The generic discussion of resources and possible project dimensions in the Cape Vincent Wind Power Project document proffered for review is not sufficient to predict impacts with any specificity. Supplemental DEIS information should be required.

Section 1.2.4 describes installation of collection and transmission system components. Soils information should be characterized and presented on project mapping, relating soils depth and soils wetness to the location of the proposed electrical system and project turbine and access road locations. This mapping will enable assessment of routing and alternatives to minimize impacts on vulnerable wet soils, and identify areas where shallow depth to bedrock may limit the installation of underground electric facilities. Locations where overhead electric lines are proposed should be identified and addressed as necessary in review of project visual and cultural resource impacts. Access to the proposed 115 kV line for construction and maintenance must consider limitations such as streams, wetlands and other factors. More detailed mapping and analysis is warranted in evaluating project impacts and available alternatives to avoid or minimize impacts.

Section 1.3.2 suggests that “the design and layout of the proposed Project components has been continuously evaluated since the decision was made to pursue a project in the Town of Cape Vincent.” The DEIS should have included the proposed layout and design, if not a reasonable range of alternative project layouts under consideration, with an indication of the constraints posed by setback requirements, resource locations, and other information relevant to facility siting.

The discussion of transmission line alternatives should explain the statement that an underground 115 kV line would require concrete encasement (page 22). The conclusion that all wetlands can be spanned by overhead construction (page 22) is questionable given the identification of a wetland crossing distance of over 1200 feet (Table 2.8, page 58). A detailed map of the transmission line route showing relevant environmental information should be provided, along with more detailed assessment of potential impacts.

The conclusion (at page 23) regarding an “additional consumption of fossil fuels” suggests that power generation must increase above existing levels to somehow offset the “no-project” alternative. This statement should be revised to indicate that the no-project alternative would not result in a potential limited decrease of fossil fuels due to the increase in power available to the grid from the wind-powered generation proposed.

Section 2.3.1 indicates that soils at each turbine site will be determined and summarized in the Final EIS (page 33). The mapping of soils constraints should be provided in a Supplement to the DEIS, and should address all project components, not just the turbine sites. Depth to bedrock, soil wetness characteristics are important considerations in siting individual turbines, access roads, electric lines, and substations, and can be useful information in analyzing alternatives and mitigation needs and project schedules. Section 2.4.2 repeats the assertion that potential impacts will be evaluated and presented in the Final EIS. The DEIS is the appropriate document for reporting potential impacts and mitigation options, and analysis of specific project alternatives.

Figure 2.5, entitled “Land Use Map” based on ca. 2001 data, should be compared with a similar but different Figure 2, “Land Use Land Cover” map at Appendix F, based on ca. 1997 data. The degree and nature of various cover types including agricultural lands, wetlands, open water, and forest cover types differs significantly as mapped on these two figures. Even the project area boundary is significantly different between the two representations. The DEIS should be supplemented with current land cover and land use information.

The representation of wetlands in Section 2.7, map Figure 2.7, obscures relevant cover type information by use of solid colors for “Field Verified Wetland Areas”. The scale of the mapping included is too gross to enable discernment of details. And with no project layout information, the information is essentially a potential constraint demonstration with no analytical value in terms of project siting impact assessment. More detailed mapping with project layout should be provided in a supplement. The mapping should extend to address the location of the proposed 115 kV transmission line route and alternatives. Additional analysis of impacts should be provided.

Discussion of impacts to other ecological resources and natural communities should include mapping of resources in relation to proposed project layout. Section 2.9 generally warrants additional information and supplementation including a project layout. Discussion of rare plant species and vegetation communities of ecological significance does not indicate where the project components are located in respect to the community types identified, or whether there is any avoidance of the habitats.

The discussion of wildlife species and raptor winter concentration area at Section 2.9.2.3 identifies the Point Peninsula areas as hosting “the most significant concentration of wintering raptors documented in new York State” (page 73). Given the noted significance of this area, it is curious that the analysis does not address this location or its specific relation to the project area or the raptor studies performed to date. The raptor studies appear to have specifically avoided this area, having been limited strictly to the study area. Additional explanation and analysis seems appropriate for a supplement to the DEIS.

The array plan and location of access roads and interconnection lines as discussed in Section 2.10.2.3 should be developed for analysis and presentation in a supplement to the DEIS.

Potential impacts to threatened and endangered species are not presented: section 2.12.4 reports that “further evaluation and consultation” is on-going. This status report is not sufficient to address potential impacts, alternatives or mitigation measures as appropriate to the content of a DEIS.

The discussion of Raptor Migration Surveys concludes with the statement that “it is difficult to conclude the magnitude of spring and fall migration in the Project Area” and suggests that “additional surveys may be warranted during spring migration” (Section 2.12.5, page 86). The questionable conclusion regarding the adequacy of surveys to date suggests that the addition of only one additional

season of data may be insufficient to document the migration magnitude. A more thorough explanation of the nature of migration through the project area, and consideration of potential impacts of the project on migrating raptors is warranted.

The discussion of visual resources (Section 2.13) and impacts cannot be adequately represented and assessed without the identification of resources and a project layout. The location of National Register of Historic Places listed and known eligible historic resources which may be potentially affected by the location of project components should be mapped, with the relation to project components clearly identified.

The definition of the assumed 5-mile area of potential effect for the visual assessment (Section 2.14.2), and the photo-simulation views of certain turbine locations (Appendix G, Visual Resource Assessment) must be based on some specific turbine location arrangement which has not been represented for review or analysis in the DEIS. The project scale - from 86 to 140 turbines -- under consideration (page 91) warrants representation on project mapping and analysis under a variety of conditions.

The representation of the numbers of turbines visible in Table 2.14-1 (page 93) can only have been developed from consideration of a specific turbine arrangement. That array should be represented in the DEIS.

The discussion of potential impacts at specific resources reports that analysis of certain visibility and impacts will be reported in the FEIS, “once the turbine array plan has been finalized”. The visual impact potential of the project from a variety of viewer locations is likely to vary significantly within the scale of turbine array alternatives under consideration. Additional information must be provided in a supplement to the DEIS to represent the project proposal, assessment of specific impacts presented, and alternatives available to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts.

Criteria for an environmental management plan for the project (page 152) should be listed and available for public comment. Adaptive management concepts for potential effects on wildlife, birds and bats would be an important consideration in developing an environmental management plan.

Historic and cultural resources surveys (Section 2.29.5, page 160) must be advanced for consideration in a supplemental DEIS. The DEIS should address impacts, alternatives and mitigation

options. The consultation process suggested at page 163 should be ongoing as drafting of a supplemental DEIS proceeds.

Impacts to resources cannot be specified to a reasonable degree without a definition of the project scope and location of project components. The DEIS must be supplemented in many respects and presented to involved agencies and to the public for review and comment. Impacts to many resources of interest to the State of New York cannot be adequately identified, analyzed, characterized, avoided or minimized without the project being defined as a specific arrangement of a specific number of turbines. Locally important impacts, such as noise, impacts to land use, turbine flicker, community character, and traffic effects on local roads, can only be assessed following definition and analysis of a specific project.

The discussion at Section 4.0 presumes that development pressure is forcing farmers to sell farmland for development. The DEIS to date does not provide any information regarding such pressure in the project area. If there is significant development pressure on farmland, and this is an important basis on which the developer or the Town is advancing the project, then a supplement should document this pressure, and analyze other alternative strategies to preserve productive farmland such as conservation easements or rezoning.

Section 6.0 discussion of cumulative impacts must be revised and based on a project layout in relation to other projects in the area. The DEIS for the St. Lawrence Windpower and for the Horse Creek Project both included project analysis arrays. The Cape Vincent project should present its various layout scenarios to demonstrate the projects under consideration at 86 turbines, at 140 turbines, and at an intermediate number as appropriate to demonstrate this project alone, and its relation to other proposed projects in the vicinity. The massive scale of combined projects as described at Section 6.1 should be represented. Economic effects as mentioned at page 172 should be reported in a supplement to the DEIS.

The following appendices should be supplemented in the DEIS, and not left to final reporting in a Final EIS as suggested in the DEIS:

Appendix A – Construction drawings – should be amended to represent study turbine sites, connection lines, access roads, staging sites, substation and transmission line locations, operations and maintenance facilities.

Appendix C and D– Wetland Delineation report and Mitigation plan – should be provided with an analysis of wetlands impacts based on project layout.

Appendix F – Avian and Bat Studies – should be amended to add the spring ’08 studies recommended.

Appendix G – Visual Impact Assessment – should be amended to address specific turbine arrangements and project scales, and should address the transmission line routing alternatives.

Appendix N – Architectural Survey Report – should be provided as an amendment to address the APE for specific turbine array under evaluation.

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