Friday, November 20, 2009

Ecogen Wind LLC sues Steuben County town over wind farm delays

A wind energy development company has sued a second town board in an attempt to force through a large wind farm without the approval of local elected leaders.

Ecogen said town officials purposefully obstructed the project by raising questions earlier this year about building and road permits, a benefits package and noise concerns. "These efforts to now delay the project were improper and in bad faith," the company stated in legal papers.

The petition, filed in state Supreme Court, expressed fears that anti-turbine Town Board members who will take office Jan. 1 will block the project entirely.

Prattsburgh Town Board member Steve Kula, who is cited in Ecogen's legal papers as being a particular thorn in the company's side, said the lawsuit is "a big dog-small dog fight. It's a huge thing for us to overcome."

Kula denied that board members have purposefully slowed the project and blamed lack of progress on the company. "They, in truth, are nowhere near beginning construction," he said.

If built, the farm would have 16 turbines in Prattsburgh and 17 in Italy, each 415 feet tall. The farm could generate up to 76 megawatts of electricity.

Ecogen said in the petition that it had spent seven years and $13 million pursuing the Prattsburgh-Italy wind farm.

The company's lawyers will ask state Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Stander to grant Ecogen the right to proceed with the Prattsburgh portion.

The lawsuit against Italy, sparked by a 5-to-0 Town Board vote in October to kill the project, is pending before Supreme Court Justice Stephen K. Lindley.

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