ENFIELD – Ithaca-area housing developer John Rancich is working on a business proposition he’s confident will generate large profits through sustainable energy.
For more than two months, Rancich has been compiling wind energy feasibility studies from a 60-meter meteorological test tower he had erected in between Buck and Connecticut hills on Black Oak Road. The tower, located in the Town of Enfield, is also near the site where he hopes to construct Enfield Energy, a community-ownership wind farm.
Rancich is looking forward to showing some of the wind data to potential lenders and investors next month, saying anecdotal evidence has looked promising.
“It’s critical to whether this project works,” Rancich said about the data. “I’m 99.9 percent sure that so far the wind data bears it out fabulously. I’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars of my own money invested in this already. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t think there was a good chance this would work.”
On the tower are nine predictors of the wind speed: six anemometers, two each at 40, 50 and 60 meters; two wind vanes, one at 40 meters and the other at 60 meters; and a base-level thermometer.
The anemometers measure the wind’s velocity, while the wind vanes detect wind direction, Rancich said, adding, the thermometer’s placement is ideal because generally colder air, which is lower to the ground than warmer air, also is denser, which creates more power.
This data is collected every 10 minutes and stored in a data logger. Later, that same information is transmitted through an iPod to an e-mail account. Then, it’s transmitted to his personal computer and that of a contracted meteorologist/engineer.
Rancich is striving to build anywhere from eight to 14 full-size 2.5 megawatt wind turbines that will stand about 400 feet tall at the tallest tip of the blade, encompassing about 600 acres. Each wind turbine takes up about a 13-foot-diameter area, he said.
The majority of the people he’s asked have been in favor of the project, he said. Those against it he attributes to the N.I.M.B.Y factor – “not in my backyard.”
Cliff Newhart, who lives on Black Oak Road across from where the meteorological tower is situated, believes the negatives far outweigh any positives, saying wind turbines would ruin the area’s natural beauty.
“People moved and live here because it’s peaceful and quiet,” he said.
Newhart called the idea the “death of the Connecticut Hill area,” adding, “I guess it really bugs me because it’s all about money. New York State is really pushing this thing – the state finances 60 percent of it – and we are paying for it with our tax money.”
In the meantime, Rancich is exploring options to turn his expensive investment into a stable profit-making enterprise. The first option is attracting investors and looking into offering the town and county ownership. One way he’s looking to absorb some of the taxes is through a Payment in Lieu of Taxes option.
Other options may include making direct payments to the town annually and then transferring ownership to the community, or selling the electricity to NYSEG through a substation.
By Michelle King
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