The twists and turns Lake Desolation Road takes on its way to the top of the mountain may scuttle plans for a power-generating wind farm in western Greenfield.
“The issue is there is some really complex terrain up there,” said Doug Colbeck, vice president for northeast development for Airtircity, the company that proposed the wind farm. “It’s challenging to get equipment to.”
Airtricity, an Irish firm that’s now developing wind farms in the United States, proposed last year building 25 power-generating windmills on a ridge near Lake Desolation.
Each turbine is capable of generating between 1.5 and 2 megawatts. A megawatt of power can supply as many as 500 homes.
Each tower would be 240 feet high – that’s three times as high as the Wise Insurance Building in Saratoga Springs. The turbine blades are 70 feet long – the length of a tractor-trailer – and are so wide a child can stand up inside them.
The capsules, or the center hub portion of a wind turbine is the size of an 80-passenger school bus. The turbines sit on bases of steel reinforced concrete.
And it will all have to come to the site by tractor-trailer along with eight loads of concrete for the bases and cranes to do the erecting.
Colbeck said Airtricity’s engineers have been looking hard at topographic maps of the area and hope, with the coming of spring, to make site visits. The feasibility study is expected to last three to four additional weeks.
“They are worried about Lake Desolation Road,” Greenfield Supervisor Al Janik said.
He pointed to the grade coming up the mountain from Middle Grove and the dips after the bridge by the former Tinny’s Bar. From there, the road turns to dirt.
Airtricity already has permission to erect a meteorological tower at the site. The company needs data from the tower for about a year in order to get financing for the project.
Colbeck said that tower is now in storage.
“Obviously we won’t need it if we decide we can’t move forward with the project,” he said.
He added that while anything can be done, he doesn’t know if the transportation concerns will cost too much and make the project unfeasible.
Janik said there is a call from time to time to improve Lake Desolation Road, which crosses from Greenfield to Providence and back again. But that call tends to come from people who live on the Great Sacandaga and not people who live in Lake Desolation.
“They want to use it as a shortcut,” he said. “The people in Lake Desolation don’t want the traffic.”
By Jim Kinney
4 April 2007
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