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Cape Vincent Wind Farm's new project manager tweaking layout as “compromise” to please critics

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CAPE VINCENT — With a new project manager at its helm, BP Wind Energy is tweaking the layout of the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm to show that it is “willing to compromise” with critics who seek to kill the project.

Peter A. Gross said Wednesday he is leaving BP to “pursue an opportunity at another company” but that the wind farm project will move ahead with Richard F. Chandler.

Mr. Chandler, the wind farm’s new project manager, has been involved in a number of large-scale, commercial solar-photovoltaic projects and has most recently completed the 31-megawatt Long Island Solar Farm as the director of development at BP Solar.

The change comes in the midst of rethinking the placement and number of turbines for the approximately 200-megawatt project.

Without elaborating on the details, such as turbine specifications, Mr. Gross said the final project proposal likely will call for fewer than the originally proposed 135 turbines.

“Technology has allowed us to produce more energy with fewer turbines,” he said, adding that BP wants to show critics that it is “willing to compromise” in the project by “re-optimizing” the layout.

Mr. Gross said BP is not sure which “landowners are getting the shaft” but that the company is devoting “a lot of time and attention to create the best layout.”

BP Wind earlier this year took over Acciona Wind Energy USA’s St. Lawrence Wind Farm project. Before the merger, BP’s energy farm was a 134-megawatt project with 84 turbines and Acciona planned for a 51-turbine, 76.5-megawatt facility.

In development now is an “expanded” Cape Vincent Wind Farm project that will require more than $300 million in capital investment, according to BP.

Mr. Gross said the merger allows for a more efficient project with one substation, shorter transmission line and less environmental impact.

Mr. Gross has hinted that BP would submit an application to the state to consider under Article X if the town of Cape Vincent adopts a stricter set of zoning laws on wind development, saying in February that the merger of the two wind projects was structured “in a manner that preserves all of our permitting options.”

Cape Vincent’s town board in January created a committee to revise its zoning law and enacted in the following month a moratorium on commercial and personal wind-energy development.

The seven-month moratorium expires Sept. 7, giving the town plenty of time to put together a new, and most likely stricter, set of rules on wind turbines.

BP has said the Cape Vincent Wind Farm project would create 250 to 300 jobs at the peak of construction and as many as 15 permanent jobs for the monitoring and maintenance of the facility.

The wind project also is expected to bring in $1.7 million per year to be divided among the school districts, town of Cape Vincent and Jefferson County based on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes structure in the county.

Mr. Chandler previously has worked on renewable energy and energy-efficiency issues in Washington, D.C., for the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science.

A former investment banker in New York City, he also has served as an energy and environmental consultant for a wide variety of organizations.

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