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Horse Creek Wind Farm developer might upsize project, begin state siting process as soon as next spring

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CLAYTON — Horse Creek Wind Farm’s developer could introduce a larger project under the state’s Article X siting process.

Paul N. Copleman, communications manager with Iberdrola Renewables Inc., said the current proposal — which would be considered by a state siting board instead of Clayton planners if, and when, the developer moves forward — is for a wind farm of up to 126 megawatts.

However, the state, in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s recently released “energy highway” blueprint, identifies Horse Creek Wind Farm as a potential renewable energy project with an electricity-generating capacity of at least 126 megawatts and as much as 376 megawatts.

“We haven’t made any determinations yet about the size of the project or the type of wind turbines we may propose,” Mr. Copleman said.

Wind farm developer Atlantic Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, last asked Clayton to consider a 48-turbine, 96-megawatt project.

In 2005, it initially sought a 130-megawatt project with 62 turbines in the southeastern part of Clayton and the neighboring town of Orleans, but downsized it by removing Orleans from the project’s scope.

After a year of inactivity, the company recently suspended its local application with the Clayton Planning Board to seek an Article X review, which would expedite the approval process and give a state siting board the authority to override local zoning laws that it deems unreasonable.

“We did recently inform the town of Clayton that we intend to pursue the Article X process for our Horse Creek project, but we don’t anticipate beginning that process until next spring at the earliest,” Mr. Copleman said, adding that it is “premature to speculate” on the timing of a project application to the state.

There are too many unknown factors that could affect the application and construction of Horse Creek, he said, such as the condition of the electricity market and federal policy.

Congress has yet to renew the U.S. government’s production tax credit for wind energy, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

The $12 billion tax credit provides 2.2 cents per kilowatt for the first decade of a wind farm’s operation and opinions are split, with the Obama administration pushing for the continuation of the incentive and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney seeking to end wind subsidies.

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