NORTH RIVER Rapidly increasing energy prices, and a lack of visible progress, has led many area residents to wonder about the status of the Adirondack Wind Energy Park. Publicly introduced nearly three years ago, the project has since made consistent progress, especially considering the effort involved in introducing a large-scale energy project in the Adirondack Park. In early 2005, the Barton Group announced plans for the Wind Energy Park as a joint venture with Reunion Power, LLC. Since that time, project leaders have been working through the various planning and permitting steps necessary to establish the proposed wind turbines on 1,700 acres of land owned by Barton Mines Corp., adjacent to the Gore Mountain Ski Area. We are currently collecting the information that will be required to apply for an APA permit, said James McAndrew, vice president of strategic projects for Barton Mines and project manager for the Adirondack Wind Energy Park. Its a fairly complex process that will involve doing studies, defining visual impact, an analysis of cultural and archeological impact, and wildlife studies. McAndrew also confirmed the project would adopt a recent set of state Department of Environmental Conservation guidelines that define what steps wind energy developers should use in determining wind powers influence on avian species. A primary concern is birds and bats, McAndrew said. Our expectation is that well be doing at least two seasons of observations during the spring and fall migratory periods. When that is completed, provided we have all the information we need, well be applying for the [APA] permit. As the project progresses through the APA permitting process, arrangements will be made to facilitate an interconnection to the existing electric utility grid. Were fortunate in North Creek to have the electric infrastructure in place thats necessary for a project like this, McAndrew said. Were one of the few areas within the Adirondacks to have this, and its a major benefit to the project. Always cognizant of external factors, including public perception and current energy costs, the project has stayed true to its original vision. We have to step forward deliberately, but I think weve always been optimistic that the arguments in favor of this project become more compelling the more you learn about it, McAndrew said. If anything, since we started pursuing the project in early 2005, the reasons for it have become even more compelling, especially considering the increasing cost of energy. At the time, I was writing a proposal and in it, I noted that oil had recently reached an all-time high of $46 per barrel. As we all know, its doubled in the last three years. My read of local sentiment is that most people are still in favor of the project, and we are steadily moving forward.