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Turbine, power line proposals connected

The manner in which the citizens, politicians, business owners and residents of Oneida and Herkimer counties have organized to put a stop to the proposed New York Regional Interconnect transmission line has been inspiring.

Anytime a for-profit company wants to disrupt people’s lives, take their property or cause pain and suffering in the course of its business, the people should pull together and fight it. Any revenue gained from such businesses should be recognized as “blood money.” This should be stopped at the state and federal levels.

Not far away, in the towns of Fairfield and Norway, Atlantic Wind LLC has proposed an industrial wind turbine facility consisting of 60 to 70 wind turbines almost 400 feet tall, about three times the height of a power line tower. They estimate the projects nameplate capacity will be about 120 megawatts, (nameplate capacity is the power a turbine could produce under maximum-wind conditions) a very misleading number.

There is another project proposed for the towns of Stark and Warren for 75 2.0-megawatt turbines with a nameplate capacity of 150Mw.

The town of Manheim is now investigating the possibility of a wind turbine project near the proposed Fairfield facility.

Current data from the Maple Ridge Wind Facility on Tug Hill, which at the time was rated at 240Mw, indicates it produced less than 30Mw for almost 50 percent of the time during July, August and September of 2006 when electricity was at its greatest demand. It never reached its nameplate capacity of 240Mw, and it only went above 200Mw for about 30 hours in three months time. This is documented by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

By comparison this would effectively make the Fairfield/Norway project more realistically a 15 Mw to 20Mw facility in the summer months because Fairfield has fewer wind resources than Maple Ridge.

Aside from the minimal amount of electricity the turbines generate, their nameplate capacity is used to determine the loading capacity of the electric grid. If we keep allowing wind turbine facilities to be constructed in Central New York, there will be no choice but to have transmission lines for the power to be routed out of the area – in this case downstate.

It has been reported Central New York already has an abundance of electricity, so is it possible the construction of the proposed wind turbine facilities is creating the need for the transmission lines? The lines need to be capable of handling the maximum nameplate capacity. If 1,200 Mw of nameplate capacity wind turbine projects are constructed in Central New York, there will have to be a way to transfer that much electricity out of the area – even though the turbines would only be generating 100Mw to 200Mw on average.

It’s common for the electric rates to go up in areas where turbines are constructed – regardless of how much electricity is being generated.

As far as the electricity staying “local,” electricity follows the path of least resistance. It’s transferred into the grid, and flows to the area with the greatest demand.

The “local law” for the wind projects in Fairfield and Norway allows a landowner who has a contract for a wind turbine to have it constructed 260 feet from their neighbors’ property line, but the law will not allow the neighbor to build a residential structure within 1,250 feet of the turbine rendering almost 1,000 feet of his property useless. No one should be allowed to take away your rights as a property owner. But the Fairfield Town Board voted to allow this to happen. Why do the state and federal governments allow this to happen?

Anti-wind groups such as Fairfield Concerned Citizens Inc. support renewable energy and wind power in the right locations, but believe there should be a more responsible approach in determining the best sources for renewable energy.

Nuclear power is far more dependable and efficient than wind power, less invasive, 100 percent renewable and is currently producing approximately 29 percent of New York state’s electricity. Wind turbines will never generate more than half of 1 percent of our electricity in the United States and no fossil-fuel electricity generating facilities have ever been shut down as a result of wind turbines being constructed.

Wind turbines should not be constructed in residential areas. Everyone should support the groups and individuals fighting to keep these projects out of the towns. It will in turn help eliminate the need for transmission lines to route the electricity downstate.

Andy McEvoy is co-director of Fairfield Concerned Citizens Inc. He lives in Little Falls.


11 February 2007