ORES Grants First Siting Permit to Wind Project Under Section 94-c

Posted on January 24, 2022

On January 13, 2022, the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) issued the first wind project permit to Heritage Wind, LLC, to construct a 184.8-megawatt (MW) wind energy facility in the Town of Barre, located in Orleans County. The project was the first major wind energy facility approved under Section 94-c, New York’s ambitious renewable energy siting law. The Facility, which may be comprised of up to 33 wind turbines, is expected to generate enough clean, renewable electricity to power 45,000 homes. This approval marks an important advancement toward achieving the clean energy and climate pollutant reduction goals outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which directs the state to obtain 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.   However, there are several issues with the decision that may have implications for future project decisions by ORES in the future.  The decision focuses on 6 wind turbines that are proposed within 2 miles of a wildlife management area.  For the first time ever, the decision imposes the burden on the developer to prove that the project is not viable without those 6 turbines.  The decision requires developers to prove that “full avoidance” is not possible before allowing minimization and mitigation.  The term “full avoidance” is typically used in the rare, threated and endangered species context, and this is the first situation where it is used for non-RTE species.  Young/Sommer will be monitoring how this affects future decision-making for other environmental resource impacts in the applications Y/S is sponsoring currently and going forward.

Heritage Wind, LLC, is owned by Apex Clean Energy.

Jim Muscato and Laura Bomyea Darling served as permitting counsel for the Heritage Wind project.