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Cape Vincent submits letter of complaint to state ahead of BP wind workshop

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CAPE VINCENT — Fed up with BP Wind Energy’s “unresponsiveness,” town officials have filed a complaint asking the state Public Service Commission to take note of the community’s “concerns and frustrations” in its evaluation of BP’s community outreach plan.

BP submitted to the PSC its revised public involvement program plan concerning the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm project last month.

It is the first hurdle BP needs to clear before submitting a project application to a state siting board under New York’s Article X energy law.

For the past couple months, Cape Vincent officials have publicly criticized wind project manager Richard Chandler for refusing to answer several questions at an Oct. 23 joint Lyme-Cape Vincent meeting.

Hoping to get their message across to the higher-ups at BP, Cape Vincent Town Council and Planning Board members also sent a joint letter to Katrina Landis, CEO of BP Alternative Energy, criticizing Mr. Chandler’s “unwillingness” to cooperate with local officials.

Cape Vincent lawmakers eventually got a response from Larry Folks, senior vice president and chief development officer for BP Wind, but it only added to their frustration.

Mr. Folks, in his Nov. 20 response letter to the town officials, said BP is aware of the complaints and is looking forward to “exploring resolution of these issues where possible.”

His letter then lists the potential benefits of having a wind farm in Cape Vincent.

“Mr. Folks’s letter is a ‘response’ only in the most technical sense. In fact, it is wholly unresponsive,” wrote town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey in a recent letter to PSC Secretary Jaclyn A. Brilling. “His letter does not merely fail to clarify anything; it does not even do us the courtesy of acknowledging the issues presented in our letter.”

Mr. Hirschey said BP’s latest letter to Cape Vincent representatives “shows no trace of genuine public involvement” and serves as further proof that BP is refusing to talk with local officials “in any meaningful way.”

“It is nothing more than a few short paragraphs of very standard BP marketing language quoting generalized benefits that BP asserts will come to a community from having a wind project. We could have lifted that language from one of their brochures,” he said. “BP’s effort is better characterized as a monologue, not a dialogue.”

Mr. Chandler, director of business development for the $300 million Cape Vincent Wind Farm project, responded to the local officials’ criticism at a Nov. 10 open house, arguing BP is being “responsible” and has been taking into consideration residents’ and municipal leaders’ concerns.

BP is hosting another public workshop at 6 p.m. today at the Cape Vincent Recreation Park on James Street to further share information regarding the state siting process for its proposed 124-turbine wind farm.

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