Under Article 10 of the Public Service Law municipal and local parties have the opportunity to participate in the siting process for major electric generating facilities. Because review of a large project can be complicated and costly, intervenor funds are available to offset the cost of participating in the process. The funds can be used to help defray the cost of retaining lawyers and technical experts. Funds are available regardless of whether a party supports, opposes, or is unsure about a project. 16 NYCRR 1000.10(b)(6). Municipal parties are entitled to at least 50% of the funds. PSL 164(6)(b).
Traditionally, the recipients of intervenor funds have been towns, counties, individuals, community groups and not-for-profit organizations with a special interest in the area. However, more entities are eligible for intervenor funds than those currently participating in Article 10 proceedings.
Generally speaking, all municipal and “local” parties are eligible for intervenor funds.
The Public Service Law defines Municipality as a “county, city, town or village located in this state.” PSL 160(1). Although counties and villages rarely request funds as municipal parties, they are certainly eligible.
Under the Public Service Law, “Local parties” are defined as “persons residing in a community who may be affected by the proposed major electric generating facility who individually or collectively seek intervenor funding.” Article 10 defines a “person” as any “individual, corporation, public benefit corporation, political subdivision, governmental agency, municipality, partnership, co-operative association, trust or estate.” PSL 160(3).
Under the broad definition of local parties, intervenor funding could be extended to planning boards, fire districts, water districts, school districts, and historic preservation boards, among others. And again, these entities rarely if ever participate in Article 10 siting proceedings.
Regarding recent changes to power plant siting law, it is important to note that regulations have not yet been promulgated for the Article 94-c siting process under the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting. Although intervenor funds are also available for municipal and public use under the Article 94-c process, regulations may circumscribe eligibility for, and use of, intervenor funds.
For inquiries about the process for siting large power plants pursuant to Article 10 of the New York State Public Service Law or under the newly formed Office of Renewable Energy Siting, please contact Bridget O’Toole. The Zoghlin Group, PLLC represents individuals, groups, municipalities, and businesses with legal needs relating to power plant siting, environmental law, zoning and land use issues, and municipal law.
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