The Horse Creek Wind Project (HCWP) is a proposed 60-72 turbine, 205 megawatt industrial wind turbine facility encompassing a 124 km² / 48 sq mi project area in the 1000 Islands Region of Jefferson County, New York.
Since the project’s inception (2005), widespread community opposition to Iberdrola and local industrial wind development has steadily intensified, with numerous organized local opposition groups, environmental/conservation organizations, government officials, and other local/state/ national level stakeholders opposing the HWCP due to a multitude of social, environmental, economic and cultural concerns and grievances.
Proposed by Spanish multinational corporation Iberdrola via American subsidiaries Avangrid Renewables and Atlantic Wind LLC, the current project iteration (2015) of this decade-old proposal calls for turbines and supporting infrastructure (access roads and high-voltage transmission lines) to be spread over 5,600 leased hectares in the waterfront towns of Clayton, Orleans, Lyme and Brownville.
Horse Creek is overwhelmingly opposed by a majority of residents and stakeholders, with 99.8% of officially-registered public comments opposing the project (492 comments as of 8/30/2017) on the project’s Article 10 Certificate of Public Need Case File.
Project opposition contends that Iberdrola has failed to act transparently with the affected communities and has never earned acceptance or a Social License for the project. In addition, various local, state and national environmental organizations contend that the HCWP would destroy the region’s unique geology and rich biodiversity, including threatened and endangered species; generate dangerous habitat fragmentation and contribute to substantial bird and bat mortality, including that of protected species due to the project’s location in the Atlantic Flyway migratory corridor; and overlay onto the Audubon Society-listed Perch Lake Important Bird Area (IBA), an internationally- recognized bird conservation zone.
Opponents note that the project is in close proximity or adjacent to numerous New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and other protected conservation areas. Directly adjacent to the project area include the Perch Lake WMA and the globally-recognized Chaumont Barrens Preserve, which is considered by the New York DEC and the Nature Conservancy as the best remaining alvar grassland anywhere in the world.
Organized local opposition and town governments contend that Iberdrola has failed to earn a Social License for Horse Creek by ignoring community concerns, acting without transparency, intentionally understating local opposition and demonstrating hostile behavior. Iberdrola sued the Town of Clayton to challenge a temporary municipal moratorium (6/1/2016) and erect meteorological test towers, which to the present (8/30/2107) have not been erected. Local residents and business owners have also expressed strong concerns and objections to Horse Creek, specifically: failure by the developer to open a local project office, with the closest office more than 60 km from Horse Creek and in another county; lack of transparency and visibility in the community, including failing to update the official project record since 8/22/2016; inappropriate project proximity to the Fort Drum Military Base, which could cause radar and operational interference, leading to a reduction or closure of the region’s main employer, economic driver (1.5 billion USD) the largest single-site employer in New York State; damage cultural resources, including Tribal Nations Sacred and Ceremonial Landscapes, specifically via project construction and wind turbine lighting that would damage or destroy cultural resources, including sites and landscapes ancestral to the Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk Nations; cause irreparable harm to the 1000 Islands Regional Viewshed, the foundation of the region’s economic engine and tourism-based economy, which employs thousands of local residents and supports a sustainable, three-century old river culture, economic model and way of life; create serious environmental damage, including risks from groundwater contamination via the construction and operation of wind turbines build upon the fragile and globally-rare alvar geological landscape and associated karst topography.
The project area and immediate region is noted for having demonstrably higher incidences of pre-contact cultural resources than most areas of the state, including numerous incidences of Sacred and Ceremonial Landscapes, Ceremonial Stone Landscapes, human remains and mortuary complexes, including the Perch Lake Mounds, Clayton Cluster (six Iroquois villages) and Depauville Mortuary Complex.
Since Horse Creek was resubmitted for consideration via the Article 10 Certificate of Public Need Process in late 2015, local opposition has greatly intensified. Since that time, opposition has grown and become more formalized. Numerous public opposition meetings, news and media stories and visible signs of project opposition (websites, posters, graphics and other materials) are now commonplace throughout the project area and local community.
Official declarations against the developer’s actions have been registered by the Town Councils of both the Town of Clayton and the Town of Orleans, the two localities that encompass the majority of the project area. Likewise, these communities have and continue to update local regulations and long-term comprehensive planning that incorporate local stakeholder input regarding the compatibility of industrial wind development.