OSWEGO — A proposed wind turbine farm near the Thousand Islands wants to run its electricity through the Port City and officials on Wednesday will gather for a public hearing to address the project.
Galloo Island Wind LLC and its parent company, Apex Clean Energy, have proposed to make the city of Oswego the terminus of the Galloo Island transmission lines, connecting to the greater New York state power grid from similar points as the Nine Mile Point and James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plants.
Galloo Island sits roughly six miles offshore in Lake Ontario, between the United States and Canada, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. The island is part of the town of Hounsfield and if developers from Galloo Island Wind LLC have their way, will be the site of up to 32 574-foot turbines, capable of generating 110 MW of power.
This Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 1:30 p.m., an informational forum and public statement hearing will be held at Oswego City Hall in compliance with the application process for a project such as the proposed Galloo Island transmission cable, which would stretch roughly 33 miles under the waters of Lake Ontario.
The project is currently under review by state regulatory authorities with Wednesday’s hearing being a part of that process, but company officials said they were optimistic that construction on the wind farm could begin as early as 2019.
Maps of the proposed underwater cable route will be available for review and New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) staff representatives will present the project in brief. Representatives from Galloo Island Wind LLC will also be available to answer questions, DPS said.
The public is welcome and invited to attend.
As part of the proposal, Galloo Island Wind LLC would construct a 115kV “point of interconnection substation” (POI) in the city of Oswego, at a 6-acre parcel on Mitchell Street described in the company’s application as “property located west of the existing Indeck-Oswego combined cycle natural gas power plant” on land that was formerly the now-defunct International paper factory.
In the application, Galloo Island Wind LLC says it explored several places to connect other than Oswego, but “alternative routes were not… feasible due to various factors” including transmission line capacity and availability, real estate and adverse environmental impacts, along with “extensive overhead transmission line requirements.”
Galloo Island Wind LLC also points out in the application that the proposed POI site is already zoned for industrial use and is “expected to have no impact on land uses in the area.”
Additionally, the Port of Oswego is “equipped to handle the demands” of transporting turbine components and bulk materials by barge from the port to Galloo Island for construction, with no impact on commercial shipping, according to the application.
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said his administration was still gathering information about the project, taking meetings with stakeholders and he “look(s) forward to keeping the discussion going.”
“It’s a massive project that I think could be economically beneficial to our area,” Barlow said. “The area of land in the city being discussed I believe is appropriate for such a project and I assume discussions and details will begin to pick up quickly in the near future.”
The Galloo Island project has been stirring up controversy for years in the Thousand Island region, where some residents are adamantly opposed to the construction of offshore wind turbines.
“A lot of people aren’t even aware this is happening,” said Dean Witmer of Henderson, Jefferson County.
Witmer says the project is being built in an “ecologically sensitive area, right in the middle of the eastern flyway for migratory birds.”
“This is a bad idea for bird migration,” said Witmer. “Galloo Island is a nesting area for Bald Eagles and the wind towers are going to chase those birds away and destroy their nesting area.”
For their part, Galloo Wind Island LLC said it would coordinate with state and federal agencies to “ensure that natural resource impacts are avoided to the extent practicable and that the minimization and mitigation programs are in place to monitor potential impacts” for the windmills.
An environment impact statement by the company said the Oswego POI substation’s impact to “wildlife and habitat at the substation is anticipated to be minimal.”
According to DPS, interested individuals who cannot attend or prefer not to speak at a public hearing have several other ways to comment about this case to the Commission. Comments should refer to “Case 18-T-0015 – Galloo Island Wind Transmission Facility Project” on the DPS website, www.dps.ny.gov, or send comments directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350. DPS also operates an Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120. This number is set up to receive comments regarding the Galloo Island project.
The deadline for public comment is Nov. 16, 2018.