The winds of change blow on their own timetable, as Noble Environmental Power has learned these recent months.
“I think everyone’s disappointed we’re not out there building today,” said Mark Lyons, project manager for the three wind-energy parks his company had expected to have under construction by now in the towns of Altona, Clinton and Ellenburg.
“But some of the permits from state agencies have taken a little longer than we thought.”
Wednesday, the Public Service Commission will vote on whether to grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Noble’s Clinton Wind Park.
Still awaiting that action will be the company’s projects in Altona and Ellenburg. But with at least one park positioned for approval, said Lyons, “I’ll consider the glass one-third full.”
Outstanding for all three parks are wetlands permits from the State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“They have until about mid December before a determination has to be made,” said DEC spokesman Maureen Wren. “It could be sooner.”
“We’re kind of breaking new ground here a little bit,” Lyons said, expressing patience with the process. “There isn’t a whole lot of precedence for building these large wind parks in New York state.”
He feels certain, though, that Noble will begin construction before the year’s end – maybe even within a few weeks, for Clinton Wind Park needn’t wait for the other two to break ground.
And it’s still possible, Lyons said, to start work without the wetlands permits, as long as those areas go untouched in the interim.
“The question is: How much progress are we going to make before the weather turns bad?”
There might not be behemoth windmills reaching up to the sky by New Year’s Eve, but, according to Noble Senior Project Manager Fred Sayyeau, quite a lot can still be accomplished.
With weather constraints in mind, plans include such projects as installing access-road entrances and construction of the two substations that will be used by the three parks.
“We’d like to make the tie-in to the NYPA (New York Power Authority) system as soon as possible,” Sayyeau said.
Noble has been processing bids from contractors vying for jobs ranging on tower erection to transmission-line installation to heavy rigging and underground electrical.
Work will be awarded incrementally, Sayyeau said.
“We don’t want to issue full-blown contracting packages until we can give full-blown start dates,” he said.
That will likely be very early spring 2007, he said.
Noble is providing contractors with dozens and dozens of resumes and applications of potential workers culled from participants in a job fair held by the energy company several months ago.
“Huge preference is given to local contractors and (companies) hiring local above and beyond their local circle of hiring,” Sayyeau said.
Erecting a wind turbine is a several-step process, one that begins with building the road that carries the massive equipment to the site and includes joining the tower section by section like a giant’s interlocking pinwheel.
Sayyeau is champing at the bit to do more than describe how it all comes together, as is the rest of the team that for many months has brought the three projects from concept to near reality.
“We always like to do things rather than sit in front of a computer,” he chuckled.
“(But) is it a disappointment for the overall company?” he continued. “Our liability is part and parcel with doing it right the first time.”
The permitting process, the groundwork before ground breaking, he said, “is something we need to work through.”
Said Lyons, “We just want to make sure we get it right.”
By: Suzanne Moore
E-mail Suzanne Moore at:
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding