The developer of the Galloo Island Wind Farm told north country contractors Friday he is pushing construction back a year, blaming a lawsuit the town of Henderson filed against the town of Hounsfield.
"Upstate had hoped to start this year," said Robert W. Burgdorf, a representative of developer Upstate NY Power Corp. "But at this point, it's pretty clear, there are still permitting issues and a lawsuit with the town of Henderson."
The remarks were made during a briefing attended by more than 200 business owners, union representatives and contractors Friday at the Watertown Elks Club. The event was organized by the developer and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.
The developer said the delay is unrelated to the New York Power Authority's refusal to buy power from this or any other wind farm based in Jefferson County.
"We're some time from the project starting," Mr. Burgdorf said. "We're here to learn what resources and expertise are available so maybe we can design the project to use them better."
Upstate NY Power had pushed for local approvals to be done by the end of 2009 so it could secure financing and start construction by the end of 2010 to make the project eligible for a 30 percent rebate through federal stimulus money.
The developers persuaded JCIDA to stop work on a model payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement to work on one for the Galloo Island site, then pushed that PILOT agreement through a badly divided Jefferson County Legislature.
The primary reason for the rush, Mr. Burgdorf told the JCIDA and the Legislature late last year, was the 2010 expiration of federal legislation giving alternative energy projects such as wind power a 30 percent construction cost rebate. Under that plan, construction had to start before the program expired.
"It looks like the grants are going to be extended for another year, which gives us a little breathing room," Mr. Burgdorf said. "The goal is to catch the 2011 season, but that's only a goal."
The site plan for the project says housing for construction workers will hold up to 130 people. Typically, about 50 to 100 workers will be on the island during the three construction seasons, in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The peak is expected to be in 2012, with 125 workers on site.
The transmission line represents an additionalr 110 to 150 jobs, Mr. Burgdorf said.
"If it goes in the water, which is what the legislators wanted, there won't be much in the way of jobs," he said. "But if it's the proposed route or another alternative route, it could add a significant number of jobs."
In November, the county Board of Legislators called for the transmission line to take a direct underwater route to Scriba. But when the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement was approved in February, the legislators understood that the developer had agreed to switch its preferred route to one that ran through Hounsfield to National Grid's Coffeen Street substation.
Mr. Burgdorf touted additional indirect jobs through suppliers and movers, as well as jobs in restaurants, lodging and retail. He said the developer has yet to select a general contractor or choose a turbine model.
Contractors and business owners said they attended because of the business opportunity.
"We poured the concrete with the Maple Ridge project," said James L. Hagan of Northland Associates, Syracuse. "We're very interested in pouring the concrete with this project."
Donald C. Alexander, chief executive officer of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, said, "This demonstrates the interest in economic development projects in the community. We need to stimulate these types of things."