June 5, 2020
From Assemblyman Joe Giglio:
“The recent decision by a state agency to allow the largest wind farm in the state, rated at 340 megawatts and containing 116 turbines over 30,000 acres of privately-leased land, was permitted by the passage of this year’s budget bill. The bill enacted the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which created the Office of Renewable Energy Siting. The siting board approved the $454 million project, located in Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Wyoming counties.
“This project has been under state and local review for several years and has large numbers of people both for and against its forward progression. Regardless of where local governments and citizens are on the issue of renewable energy projects, the creation of this new process of review and approval for such projects under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act has essentially removed local control. Prior to the passage of this year’s budget, communities were allowed some input in the process. Now the approval of renewable siting is approved by the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, when previously it was reviewed by a board with two local representatives.
“The new siting approval process is flawed, and a perfect example of why policy items should be excluded from the budget, as I have said this year and every year as the Legislature begins budget negotiations. I have always been adamantly opposed to the inclusion of policy items in the budget because this practice usurps the home rule rights and responsibilities of local jurisdictions.
“The autonomy of local governments is being slowly stripped away, while they continue to bear the burden of crushing unfunded state mandates. Our communities deserve better. They deserve the opportunity to make decisions that affect them, rather than ceding control to another state agency under the governor’s purview.”