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Voters for Wind accused of receiving money from BP

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CAPE VINCENT — Voters for Wind has been accused of receiving financial assistance from BP Wind Energy by an attorney representing Cape Vincent’s town government.

Members of the pro-wind power group, however, denied the allegation Thursday, calling it a “bold-faced lie” meant to discourage the state Public Service Commission from awarding Cape Vincent Wind Farm intervenor funding to Voters for Wind.

“The town is concerned that special interest groups, such as Voters for Wind, may request funding for expert opinions, perhaps for the purpose of denying or limiting funds that might otherwise go to parties that are perceived to be critical of BP’s project,” said Paul J. Curtin Jr., an attorney with Shulman Curtin & Grundner, Syracuse, in his letter sent Wednesday to Jeffrey C. Cohen, PSC’s acting secretary.

Under state law, BP is required to provide $99,750 in “intervenor funding” that municipalities and local parties can apply for to hire experts to participate in the project application’s review. While these funds may not be used to cover litigation costs, the money can be used to prepare for legal action.

Of the money, 50 percent is reserved for municipalities.

“We question the legitimacy of distributing BP’s intervenor funds to a group that is already affiliated and funded by BP,” Mr. Curtin said.

But Voters for Wind members argued Mr. Curtin’s claim is unfounded and they are entitled to intervenor money as much as anyone else.

“It’s a bold-faced lie,” said Gary J. King, a founding member of Voters for Wind. “We’ve never been offered money and we get absolutely zero money from BP.”

He said Voters for Wind is funded entirely through member dues and fundraisers.

“We feel we’re entitled to intervenor funds, even more so than the Cape Vincent town government,” he said, adding it seems the Town Council’s only concern is to block wind development.

Julia E. Gosier, another member of Voters for Wind, said she has not read Mr. Curtin’s letter but echoed Mr. King’s sentiments.

“There is absolutely no reason Voters for Wind shouldn’t be qualified for funding,” she said.

The state departments of Public Service and Environmental Conservation will hold a preapplication conference to consider intervenor funding requests at 7 p.m. May 21 in Cape Vincent Elementary School’s auditorium, 410 S. Esselstyne St.

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