Frequently Asked Questions

General Project FAQs

1. What types of economic benefit will Lighthouse Wind bring to the community?

Lighthouse Wind will create jobs and generate an entirely new source of long-term revenue for schools, governments, and landowners. Developed and constructed with private capital, the project is expected to provide:
  • Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with the local tax jurisdictions that would provide over $1.6 million annually in revenue for 20-30 years
  • Host Community Agreement (HCA) with the towns of Yates and Somerset.
  • Hundreds of jobs during construction and up to 13 full time jobs for operations and maintenance.
  • Annual lease payments to local landowners with wind facilities on their property. These payments will continue over the projected 30-year lifespan of the wind farm, injecting millions of dollars into the economies of Niagara and Orleans Counties to support local merchants,contractors, equipment suppliers, auto dealers, etc.

2. How much electricity will the project produce?

It is anticipated that Lighthouse Wind will provide enough clean, renewable energy to power over 53,000 average New York homes.

3. How much land would be needed in Somerset and Yates for a 200MW solar farm producing the same amount of energy as Lighthouse Wind?

A 2013 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) showed that on average solar installations needed between 6 and 8 acres per megawatt, meaning that in order to produce the same amount of energy as the 200 megawatt Lighthouse Wind project, there would need to be somewhere between 1,200 and 1,600 acres covered completely with solar panels.  In comparison, each wind turbine at Lighthouse Wind will take up less than ½ acre, and allow farmers to continue their operations. Read the report here.

4. How will the wind farm change the existing rural landscape?

Wind turbines are certainly tall, but many people appreciate their presence on the landscape. As part of our formal application process through Article 10, we will be working with third-party modelers to create visual simulations of the project from various vantage points once we determine where turbines could be located.  This will help local residents understand how theproject will appear on the local landscape.  On average, the footprint of wind facilities occupiesless than 2% of the total land leased, with each wind turbine typically requiring less than ½ an acre of land.
The need for other new infrastructure for the project is quite limited due to the existing high-voltage power lines and highways in Somerset and Yates.  We intend to bury the large majorityof power lines which connect turbines to the project substation underground, keeping themout of sight and from having any impact on farming operations.

The construction of a wind farm in Niagara and Orleans Counties will help maintain agriculturalland and open space by providing new economic stability to local farmers.  Wind turbines complement working farms, because they allow for existing agricultural operations to continue around them.

5. How far will turbines be sited from the lake?

All turbines will be located south of Lower Lake Road.  Additionally they will be set back from homes, barns and other structures and features on the south of Lower Lake Road, providing an additional buffer from the lake.

6. How will Apex safeguard local taxpayers against decommissioning costs?

The turbines from the Lighthouse Wind Farm will not be abandoned.  At the end of the windfarm’s serviceable life (about 30 years), turbines will be either upgraded or decommissioned. If removed, foundations are excavated to a depth of four feet, and the land is restored for agricultural production. Before the wind farm is constructed, a decommissioning plan and bond will be set up to ensure that Lighthouse Wind has set aside funds to pay these costs, and taxpayers and landowners will be protected from bearing any burden. This plan and bond will be a requirement of not only our agreements with landowners, but a requirement of an article 10 permit. The amount of this decommissioning bond will be re-analyzed at least every 5 years to ensure that the money is sufficient to remove the turbines and restore the land.  Every existing wind farm in NY, of which there are over 20, has a decommissioning plan.
New York has a very rigorous state permitting system for major electric generating facilities called Article 10.  Article 10 defines a clear process for public engagement and includes manyopportunities for the public to share opinions and suggestions. The Article 10 Siting Board will ultimately determine if the facility is a “beneficial addition or substitute for” generation capacity, that construction and operation are in the public interest, that adverse environmental effects will be minimized or avoided, and that the project is in compliance with state laws and regulations. Specifically, the Board will base their determination on the Project’s impacts to:
  • Statewide electrical capacity.
  • Ecology, air, ground and surface water, wildlife, and habitat.
  • Public health and safety.
  • Cultural, historical, and recreational resources.
  • Transportation, communication, utilities, etc.
  • Cumulative emissions on the local community according to environmental justice regulations.
  • More information about getting involved with the Article 10 process, and instructions for how to share opinions or suggestions is available here.

8. Are landowner agreements a secret?

Memos of agreement are filed with county.  Each participating parcel and component location will be shown in the final application.

9. Will Apex sell the wind farm once it is built?

We do not yet know the answer to this question.  Apex is a growing company of over 150 individuals with the capacity to excel in every phase of project realization, from origination to asset management, financing to construction.   Apex is led by a team of wind energy veterans with collective experience of over $10 billion in the development, financing, construction, and operation of wind and solar energy facilities now operating in the United States. The Apex team offers in-house expertise in wind resource assessment, development, permitting, wildlife biology, engineering, information technology, construction, and finance.  We look forward to adding facility ownership to this set of attributes, and by the time Lighthouse Wind is built, we may be ready to do so. That said, the sale of a project to another entity should create no cause for concern.  Every agreement and contract signed by the project prior to any potential transfer of ownership will remain in place if a transfer takes place. Commitments to landowners, local governments, and the State of New York will remain in place and fully enforceable under the law.

Tax Subsidy FAQs

1. What is the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC)?

The Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a tax credit that can be claimed by renewable energy projects for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy they produce in only their first 10 years of operation. The credit functions much like the more familiar mortgage tax credit, claimed by so many of us. Just as the mortgage credit is based upon the actual mortgage interest paid, the PTC is based upon the actual energy produced. It is not a cash grant, and it cannot be used for the construction or development of wind projects, because it is only available after the wind
farm is operating. The PTC was signed into law in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush.
Because the credit reduces the claimant’s tax burden by 2.3 cents per kWh of energy produced, that energy can be sold at a cheaper rate. In many cases, this helps electricity consumers save money. The tax credit can actually reduce consumers’ electric bills.
In December 2015, Congress overwhelmingly approved legislation which extends the PTC for five years, with a gradual phase out of the benefit over that time.  The PTC has played a major role in encouraging innovation in the wind turbine industry, causing wind's cost to fall 66% over the past 6 years. This multi-year predictability moving forward will provide increased certaintyand help ensure that this trend continues.  In addition, the number of jobs the industry has created continues to grow.  It is estimated that by 2020 the wind industry could employ over 200,000 people in America.

 

2. Do other energy sources use tax subsidies?

All domestic energy sources have historically been subsidized, partly to help encourage the production of energy domestically. Fossil fuels in their start-up period got five times more in government incentives than renewable energy has, and nuclear got 10 times as much. Since 1950, 70% of all energy subsidies have gone to fossil fuels. As recently as 2002-2007, they got nearly five times as much in tax incentives as renewables. These incentives have helped oil and gas companies build their businesses and their industry in the US. Helping energy industries to get a good foothold in this country can take a while, but the payback makes the investment worth it.
As described in a 2011 report by DBL Investors, all domestic energy sources have historically been subsidized, in large part to help encourage the production of domestic energy within the U.S. “...The federal commitment to O&G [oil and gas] was five times greater than the federal commitment to renewables during the first 15 years of each subsidies’ life, and it was more than 10 times greater for nuclear.” To be specific, in inflation-adjusted dollars, oil and gas subsidies averaged $1.8 billion over the first 15 years of subsidy life, while renewables averaged less than $0.4 billion. As we continue to develop more sources for domestically-produced electricity, wind energy is exciting, because it boosts our national energy security and creates new jobs, while keeping our air and water clean.

Wind Turbine FAQs

1. When will the public be able to see a draft turbine layout?

As technical studies are completed and additional public comment is collected, turbine locations will be adjusted in accordance with the information we receive. The modified layout will be included in the Article 10 Application that is submitted to the Siting Board. Based upon the review of the Application, additional changes in the layout most likely will occur. Most wind farms modify their project layout multiple times.  Final locations will be dependent upon discussions with each landowner, feedback from the State Siting Board, as well as the turbine that is selected, the wind resource, geo-technical conditions, the presence of any cultural artifacts, and required setbacks from buildings, roads, waterways, and wetlands.  To the greatest extent possible, we strive to incorporate landowner requests into the final siting of the
turbines.

2. Will the turbines be 600 ft tall?


We do not yet know the exact turbine model we will be using, but it is possible for the turbines to be around 600 ft (from base to tip of blade).  There are many benefits to having taller turbines.  Taller turbines produce more energy, which means fewer turbines in the project, and less land disturbed.  The exact turbine model, size, and location will be presented in the Article 10 application, which will be open to agency and public review for at least a year.

3. Will the turbines have lights on them at night?


Yes. Lighthouse Wind will consult with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to receive site-specific project lighting requirements.  The project’s proximity to airports and naval bases and the height of the turbines will help determine the specific lighting requirements for Lighthouse Wind. Typically, it is not required that every turbine in a project be lit.  When lights are required, they are placed on the top of turbine nacelles and blink in a regular pattern.

4. Does the manufacturing of a wind turbine use more energy resources than it saves in its lifetime?


A recent study of the “energy payback” time for an average turbine showed that this period is around 3-6 months. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), “Wind turbines produce no greenhouse gas emissions during their operation. It takes a turbine just three to six months to produce the amount of energy that goes into its manufacturing, installation, operation, maintenance and decommissioning after its 20-25 year lifetime. During its lifetime a wind turbine delivers up to 80 times more energy than is used in its production, maintenance and scrapping. Wind energy has the lowest 'lifecycle emissions' of nearly all energy production technologies.” Read the study here.
More information can be found here as well. 

5. Will the concrete from the turbine impact groundwater?

The concrete foundations used for the development of Lighthouse Wind turbines will be properly cured. Cured cement has a higher strength, volume, durability and is more permeable resistant.  The in-depth geo-technical engineering and hydrology studies performed during Lighthouse Wind’s site characterization would determine drainage patterns, vegetation, erosion potential, and surface water.  This information would contribute to the development of the Best Management Practices (BMP) used during turbine foundation construction.  These BMPs, which will be included in the article 10 application and reviewed by the siting board, will regulate the procedures around construction practices.
Wind energy projects actually support cleaner water resources.  Acid rain, one of the sources of polluted waterways is caused by traditional fossil fuel based energy production.  According tothe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE):
  • A single 1-megawatt wind turbine can displace 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 1 year (equivalent to planting 1 square mile of forest).
  • Achieving a 20% wind energy by 2030 scenario would reduce cumulative water use in the electric sector by 8%, or 4 trillion gallons.
Copies of the studies can be found here and here

Wildlife FAQs

1. Will the wind farm impact local wildlife?

Properly sited wind energy projects protect birds and wildlife by producing no dangerous pollutants or carbon emissions.  While birds do occasionally collide with turbine blades, modern wind farms are far less harmful to birds than buildings, communication towers, power lines, and vehicles. In fact, turbines account for only a small fraction, about .0003%, of all human-related bird deaths.

Wind energy is one of the most environmentally friendly forms of electrical generation on the planet. That is because wind energy emits no air or water pollution, requires no mining or drilling for fuel, uses virtually no water, and creates no hazardous or radioactive waste. Clean, renewable wind energy also displaces harmful emissions from fossil fuel power plants and offsets carbon emissions, making it a safer generation option for people, wildlife, and natural ecosystems.


2. How will Apex protect wildlife from project impacts?


Apex coordinates with federal and state wildlife agencies to make sure the project is sited inareas where impacts to birds or bats are minimized and appropriately mitigated if necessary.

The following wildlife studies will be completed for Lighthouse Wind:
  • Breeding Bird Survey
  • Raptor Migration Survey
  • Winter Grassland Raptor Study
  • Year-round General Avian Use Survey
  • Year-round Eagle Use Survey
  • Acoustic Bat Activity Survey
  • Federal/State-listed Bat Presence/Absence Surveys

3. How will the wind farm impact local deer populations and hunting?


The operating wind farm will have no impact to deer populations and hunting.  Just as the deerpopulation adapts to construction of new homes, buildings, and other new sights and soundsnear their habitats, deer also become accustomed to wind farms. It is not uncommon to finddeer and other wildlife feeding or resting near the bases of turbines. Cattle, horses, goats andother livestock are also 100% compatible with wind energy technology.
The Town of Sheldon is home to the High Sheldon Wind Farm, located in Sheldon, NewYork.  The project went operational in 2009. The chart below shows the annual deer take rate two years prior to operation of the wind farm and last year’s annual deer take rate.
Town Turbines Year of Operation Deer Take Rate 2007 Deer Take Rate 2014
Sheldon 75 2009 410

602

The Town of Wethersfield is home to the Noble Wethersfield Wind Park, located in Sheldon,New York.  The project went operational in 2009.  The chart below shows the annual deer take rate two years prior to operation of the wind farm and last year’s annual deer take rate.
Town Turbines Year of Operation Deer Take Rate 2007 Deer Take Rate 2014
Wethersfield  84 2009 379

444

Property Values and Health FAQs

1. Will the wind farm decrease property values?


As the development of utility-scale wind energy projects has become more prevalent in this country, evidence to answer this question has become easier to find. Over the last several years, researchers have been scientifically analyzing the data to find a reliable answer this question.
In 2013, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) completed the most extensive study to date on property transactions near wind farms.  The conclusion states, “the core results ofour analysis consistently show no sizable statistically significant impact of wind turbines on
nearby property values.”

The study data shows that even homes within ½ mile of a wind turbine are not affected by its presence.

About the Study: 
  • Researchers analyzed 51,276 home sales near 67 wind farms in 27 counties across 9 U.S. states.
  • All homes were within 10 miles of wind facilities· 1,198 sales were within 1 mile of a turbine
  • 331 sales were within 1/2 mile of a turbine
  • Data was collected before, during, and after wind farm construction
Source: A Spatial Hedonic Analysis of the Effects of Wind Energy Facilities on Surrounding Property Values in the United States

 

2. What is low frequency sound and how will this affect the local community?

As wind turbine blades pass through the air, they make a sound that is often described as a“whoosh.”   Measurements of this sound show that it is no louder than a kitchen refrigerator or a standard air conditioning unit at a distance of 1,000 feet.  The low-frequency sound, or "infra-sound," produced by turbines is qualitatively no different than that which is generated by waves crashing on the beach or the sound of your own heart beating. Scientific evidence confirms this sound is not dangerous, and that any low-frequency waves produced are not harmful to those nearby.
“…the weight of the evidence suggests no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.”

“To date, no peer reviewed scientific journal articles demonstrate a causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise (audible, low frequency noise, or infrasound) they emit and resulting physiological health effects.” 
  • Knopper and Ollson, “Health Effects and Wind Turbines: A Review of the Literature.” Environmental Health 2011, 10:78.
“The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms…is well belowthe level where known health effects occur, and there is no accepted physiological mechanismwhere sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects.
  • Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. “Wind Turbines and Health”. Mar 2014.
The best way to understand wind turbine sound is to experience them firsthand.  Weencourage everyone to visit one of the 22 wind farms across New York State.   The closest examples are south in Wyoming county.

3. Do wind farms create any health risks to humans?


More than 48,000 wind turbines are in operation in the United States today, safely generating electricity for our nation.  In fact, wind energy is one of the healthiest forms of energy generation in the world, because it releases no greenhouse gases, soot, or carbon into the atmosphere, nor does it consume valuable fresh water or produce water pollution.

Government and university-sponsored studies around the world have repeatedly confirmedthat modern wind turbines pose no threat to public health.  
Over 17 independent reviews ofthe existing science on wind energy and health have reached the same conclusion:
“There is no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome." 
  • Massachusetts Dept of Public Health, “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel,” January 2012.
Apex wind projects are built in full compliance with required regulations to protect the healthand welfare of landowners, maintenance teams, and others.

Article 10 Process FAQs

1. Why are the turbine model and locations not represented in the Preliminary Scoping Statement (PSS)?

Properly sited turbines create successful projects.  Wind turbine siting is a very thoughtful process and is the most important aspect of the project. In order for turbine model and locations to be identified we need to understand the project’s environmental settings (geotechnical, archeological, wetland, etc).  Due to the longevity of some of the required studies, the environmental setting of the project’s footprint will not be fully identified until we submit our Application.

2. What is the purpose of the PSS?


The PSS is a document prepared for the PSC Siting Board, the public and other participating agencies to show the applicant’s intent for submitting an Article 10 Application.  The document's purpose is to show what the project is planning to study in order to show the environmental setting of the project area, the potential impacts from the project, and how those impacts will be mitigated. The PSC Siting Board, agencies and public are given 21 days to comment.  The comment period is necessary to bring to light project concerns so that we can address them in the extensive application.  The PSS makes for a more thorough Application.

3. When is the final Article 10 application expected?


The final application will be submitted in summer of 2016. The application will include all of the project component locations, the turbine model and size, and the results of all the studies which are described in the PSS.  The application will be open to stakeholder review for up to a full year.

4. Who makes up the Article 10 Siting Board?


The Article 10 Siting Board is made up of 5 permanent members and 2 ad hoc public members.The permanent members of the Siting Board are the Chairmen of the Department of PublicService, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Commissioner of the Department of Health, Chairperson of the New York State Energy Research and Department Authority (NYSERDA), and the Commissioner of Economic Development.  In addition the board will have two local ad hoc members.
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