Honorable Sean Mullany (Sean.Mullany@dps.ny.gov)
Administrative Law Judge State of New York Department of Public Service
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1350
Honorable Kathleen H. Burgess
Secretary to the Commission NYS Department of Public Service
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223
Re: Case 14-F-0485 – Application of Lighthouse Wind LLC for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need Pursuant to Article 10 to Construct a 201 MW Wind Energy Facility
Dear Secretary Burgess and Your Honor:
Please accept the following submission outlining the methodology and data analysis of the NYS Department of Public Service “Public Comment” submissions in the Petition Matter of Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need, Case Number 14-F-0485 for Lighthouse Wind LLC, commonly referred to as “Lighthouse Wind Project”.
Collection, Methodology and Analysis of Data
Collection of publicly available data occurred during two periods of time in October 2018 and January 2019 via the following weblink… http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterCaseNo=14-f-0485&submit=Search
Data was organized within MS-Excel, maintaining critical components of the source data; i.e., Sr.No., Posted Date, Comments &/or Attachment(s)and Comment No. Data for each record, referred to as “Submission”, was maintained on equal basis with the DPS “Public Comments” form as per “Sr.No.”.
Data management and data integrity controls were added; i.e., reorganization of Posted By data into a “Last Name, First Name, Middle Initial” format. Additional MS-Excel columns were added for Support, Oppose, Quarter of Submission, Form of Submission (postcard, letter, etc.).
With special respect to the Post By data associated with each Submission, efforts were made to clarify inconsistencies within the data, for example multiple submissions from “J. Smith”, “John Smith”, “Jonathon Smith”, “John Q. Smith” or “John Q. Smith Jr.” Of over 1,600 submissions, less than one-half of one percent were unable to be properly associated with either an existing submission or a new submission. They were excluded accordingly as “N/A”.
- Selection of Binary, “Oppose/Support” Data Assessment Metric
All Submissions were assessed to ascertain a binary position of either “Oppose” or “Support”. No efforts were taken to assess a “weight” for any Submission. Possible methods of “weighting” may have included word counts, submission type or format, form letters or post cards, etc. Arguments for or against “weighting” are plentiful, however they open the door for subjective versus objective data analysis and conclusions.
A binary “Oppose” or “Support” metric is consistent with multiple “empirical assessments” performed by various Parties related to this Matter, as submitted to the NYS DPS and published in local media outlets, which highlighted percentages of “Opposition” or “Support” over distinct periods of time throughout this process. These data analyses and subsequent submissions into the public record were not required as part of the Public Involvement Program (PIP).
There is no indication or formal basis for any Submissionsto the NYS DPSto be “data” for the purpose of conducting “Public Surveys”. However, early within the process, the DPS and public record show repeatedly, this “data” was used expressly for the purpose of publicizing the level of “Opposition” or “Support” in a binary fashion based on Submission counts and associated percentages per quarter. No data controls were evident upon subsequent independent analysis as to quantity of Submissions by any one unique Individual within any reported time period.
DPS Filed Documents “DPS Comments Assessment” 07/08/16
It is also of special note and significance, that prior to the first unsolicited “empirical analysis” submission by any Party in this DPS Matter, same Party issued a “semi-public” request via Facebook to an official, registered Party, Save Ontario Shores’ Facebook Group page. This request and solicitation included a link to the DPS website.
Screenshot from Facebook posted on August 19th 4th2015
- Tracking Submissions through Time and by Individual Public Parties
To better understand the data, using Posted Dateand Posted Byinformation, the columns for Supportand Opposetracked respective position of the Submissionbased on the following criteria;
- “First” – to note the original submission by a unique Individual, and
- “2+” – every subsequent Submissionby a uniqueIndividualhaving previously submitted a “First” comment.
There was no data supporting the switching of any individuals from “Support” to “Oppose” or from “Oppose” to “Support” over the timeframe.
- Control for Public versus Official Capacity of Submissions
One further control was added to the DPS “Public Comments”data, to assess the status of the Individual providing the Submission. Criteria for exclusion were categorized as follows, if the Individual was or is;
- officially registered within the official DPS Party List;
- an elected official at the Townlevel or employed in an official capacity at the Townlevel;
- Town of Somerset Board(5); D. Engert, R. Jansen, J. Hotaling, C. Bronson, J. Dewart, T. Carmer (Clerk)
- Town of Yates Board(5); J. Simon (Sup), J. Riggi, B. Bradley, J. Whipple, W. Bradley, M. Harling (Clerk), P. Laszewski (Assessor)
- an elected official at the Countyor Statelevel or employed in an official capacity;
- an individual holding an official capacity representing the perspective of others, represents a commercial or not-for-profit stakeholder in this matter – referred to as “Agency”;
- an employee of Apex Clean Energy.
Submissions meeting these criteria were uniformly categorized as “N/A” and reported separately.
- Control for Locational, Geographic and Legal Status of Individuals
From the perspective of objectively analyzing the “Public Comments”, it is important to note, the physical or legal address of the Individual cannot be verified with any degree of accuracy or validation. As a non-“Party List” Individual having submitted multiple Submissions, whom has declared my legal address in documents submitted electronically, I can attest, there are no controls or verification measures in place by which a determination can be made as to whether an Individual is “local”, “out of region”, “out of state” or “out of country”.
My analysis has not attempted to assess legal or geographic attributes of any Submissionor Individual.
- Data Analysis
General Summary of Data
- Quarterly Submission Counts, 2015 through 2018
- Summary of 2018 Submissions
- Submissions Graphed Per Quarter, Support/Oppose, “First” or “Repeat”
The green line tracks “First” Support as a percentage of all “First” Submissions. The dotted green line is a data-driven “trendline”. These lines are intentionally shifted with 0% “Support” at mid-graph, 100% at the top of the graph. As the data is binary, excluding “Opposition” is for clarity only, it would be a mirror image.
- Request of NYS Department of Public Service
The intent of the NYS DPS in providing this forum for “Public Comments” on this Matter, to the best of my knowledge, was to offer individuals of varying degrees of interest within this project a forum to express their perspective and opinions. It was never intended, nor did it portray in any manner, to be source of data for an “official” or “ad hoc” survey of public sentiment to be disseminated to the public in any manner suggestive of neutrality, non-bias or scientific interpretation of the “Public Comments” data contained within.
Unfortunately, as demonstrated in Section 2.1, the intent of this Public Involvement Program (PIP) has been transformed by vested Parties and Individuals in this matter into a “survey” demonstrating a high-degree of officiality. These “survey” results have been widely publicized in local media outlets, implying credibility and neutrality of not only the analysis, but also the manner by which the Submissions were promoted, marketed and solicited.
The data collection, organization, controls and analysis I have performed, while not demonstrating an opinion, perspective or “result” favorable to myself as a supporter of this energy project, was performed with the primary intention to understand and clarify the sentiment of public stakeholders, and to remove “chatter” often dominating the discussion both online and in public spaces.
My initial random sampling of DPS “Public Comments” suggested inaccuracies to frequent “survey” results published in local media outlets existed. That I could find no counter-claims, or published records suggesting any improprieties or conflicts of interests may exist, compelled me to verify both the accuracy and neutrality of any “empirical analyses” of the data used, and to verify professional, non-partisan data science methodologies were being adhered to regardless of officiality of data utilized or survey methodologies employed. The collection, organization and subsequent analysis provided above, involved far more uncompensated financial input on my behalf, however I considered its value to the public at large worth my personal losses.
Promotion of these finding for the single purpose of offering the public stakeholders a neutral, data-driven analysis of these “official survey” results, given I was neither a current resident within the project area nor a professionally hired “Expert Witness”, proved challenging to format these analyses in a suitable manner for publication in local media outlets. I was afforded one publication opportunity in the OrleansHub, https://orleanshub.com/deeper-analysis-of-comments-on-dps-website-show-councilmans-flawed-analysis/. However, this was countered by same Party, not by validation of methodology employed, but rather through altering of the metrics reported and simple dismal through public credibility as an “honest broker” afforded possessing officiality and non-bias as an elected Town Councilman.
“To reduce confusion as much as possible a few short comments are offered:
DPS Comments Assessment from year end 2017 and as posted in the Orleans Hub show a one-time commenter breakdown as follows: Opposed to Lighthouse Wind: 74 percent; In support of Lighthouse Wind: 26 percent
Mr. Hyde’s one-time commenter numbers (66.6% Opposed, 33.4% In favor), though he excludes certain comments, are not significantly different from a statistical point of view for data generated over 4.5 years. In fact, both sets of numbers fall within the historic Opposition vs. Support percentages as exhibited in surveys put forth by both Yates and Somerset.” –https://orleanshub.com/councilman-says-yates-making-progress-on-many-issues-while-also-fighting-turbine-project/
The “data”, as provided above, however was far more nuanced, and I suspect there was no efforts taken by the Party to reexamine the “data” or apply stricter methodologies. Simply put, public trust in elected official [Party] afforded unquestionable acceptance of subjective and qualitative validation of the same “data”, in contrast to objective and quantitative “data” analysis and reporting.
It is of special note, that the responsibility of this “ad hoc” survey, its analysis and the promotion of “results” has recently been transferred to another Party, without official status in this Matter holding elected office. What is of particular interest, not only has the employed methodology not been altered, but any challenging of its neutrality or questionable methodology has been dismissed in its entirety,
“If anyone would care to go back to the beginning of the comments and perform a similar analysis on all 1,600+ comments, please feel free. I have better things to do.”– https://orleanshub.com/comments-on-dps-site-continue-to-show-opposition-to-lighthouse-wind/
The analysis provided above requires no official or unofficial Party to “go back to the beginning”. However, its publication in the best interest of all public stakeholders on this Matter should be within the public record.
I do therefore make the following request, …
Given the media exposure granted to certain Parties in this Matter, and their continued and ongoing promotion of their “ad hoc” survey results as being the “overwhelming” will of the public involved, I would with reverence to your judgement, request NYS DPS investigate any and all conflicts of interest within the intents of this Public Involvement Program (PIP) offering and the use of its “data” for the promotion of results carrying an air of neutrality and officiality.
Sincerely & With Respect,
January 9th, 2019