Wednesday, September 01, 2010

AG launches investigation into Cape Vincent wind dealings

The state Attorney General’s office has launched an investigation into possible misconduct by Cape Vincent officials for wind turbine farms proposed by Acciona Energia and British Petroleum.

In an Aug, 13 letter, the state ordered all documents from the town council and planning board related to wind development be turned over.

Two out of five town board members and three out of five planning board members either personally have agreements to lease their land to wind developers or have relatives with wind leases.

One current state senator is also reported to have a contract with a wind developer.

The Watertown Times recently reported that, “State Sen. Darrel Aubertine receives more than a $1,000 annually from a Cape Vincent wind developer even though his spokesman said there are no plans to build a turbine on his property.”

As reported in the Feb. 23, 2008 issue of The Valley News, Aubertine’s disclosure statement, filed May 15, 2007 with the state Legislative Ethics Commission, does not list any interests or contracts with any wind-power companies.

His disclosure statements show he and his wife Margaret own a total of just more than 600 acres of land.

His most recent filing does show income from a St. Lawrence County wind farm.

Oswego County officials have been closely observing all that is happening with wind farms in the north country, as one proposed project would site the high-powered transmission lines somewhere within the county boundaries.

One proposed route for the Galloo Island project would bring the lines through the Village of Pulaski, a plan that county lawmakers oppose because the county coffer relies on the fishing industry that could be substantially impacted.

The original path of the line was to run from Henderson to Ellisburg, Sandy Creek and Pulaski to a National Grid line in Mexico.

A change in the route had the lines running into Hounsfield and along Route 12F to an electric substation on Outer Coffeen Street in Watertown.

The most recent proposal is actually four proposals and public meetings are scheduled for each potentially impacted municipality.

The prospect of wind farms has sharply divided communities and opponents of the two proposed wind farms at Cape Vincent reportedly brought the investigation to fruition. The opponents complained that the process was tainted by conflicts of interest on the town board and planning board.

“There is civil unrest in Cape Vincent,” Legislator Shawn Doyle said. “When you have over 200 people going to a meeting within a town divided, something’s going to break.”

Doyle and former U.S. Ambassador and State Senator H. Douglas Barclay represent the county in wind matters. Doyle has attended dozens of meetings in the past two years in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

Aubertine spokesperson Drew Mangione said last week that the senator cannot comment on the current investigation.

It is not known when the investigation will conclude.

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