The Nature Conservancy’s $110 million deal to purchase and preserve 161,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn timberland includes the proposed site of a power-generating wind farm near Lake Desolation in Greenfield.
The Conservancy supports wind power as a matter of principle as long as the wind farm is built in an environmentally responsible manner that doesn’t destroy habitat, said Dirk Bryant, a member of the Conservation Programs for the Adirondack Chapter in Keene Valley, near Lake Placid.
The organization just doesn’t know that much about the Lake Desolation project, he said. The deal was announced last week and deeds on the land in Saratoga County were filed just Monday at the County Clerk’s Office in Ballston Spa.
The wind farm proposal is for former Finch land that lies just outside the Adirondack Park, where development is stridently regulated.
“We are going to study the plans, if any and we’re going to have to sit down with people familiar with the area. We are going to have to sit down with the town,” he said. “We are going to have to sit down with Airtricity.”
Airtircity, an Irish firm that’s now developing wind farms in the United States, proposed nearly two years ago 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.
Wind farm proposals have proved vexing for environmental groups within the Adirondack Park. While they want renewable energy, some oppose the towers saying they mar views and necessitate the destruction of habitat.
Airtricity’s vice president for northeast development, Doug Colbeck, said the agreement his firm signed with Finch before going public with plans for the wind farm is still in place.
“What we have is an option to rent the property and that is still in place when the dead transfers with the deed,” he said. “We would have made sure that was part of the agreement with Finch from the start.”
The project itself is on hold as Airtricity brings in a new consulting engineer to look at transportation issues. The site is reachable only by a long and winding mountain road. Airtricity needs to find out if it is even possible to haul the generating equipment and tower sections to the site by tractor trailer.
“It will probably be someone who has worked with these turbine manufacturers in the past, because they have had to deal with this over and over,” Colbeck said.
The new engineer should be on board in a few weeks.
Greenfield Supervisor Al Janik said he’s been playing phone tag with Bryant and hopes to meet with him soon. People in the town have generally been supportive of Airtricity. Some residents were concerned that Airtricity would use Plank Road to access the site, but Janik said he’s been assured the company will use Fox Hollow Road, if it can.
“I don’t know if the site is too challenging for them,” Janik said. “We wait at their pleasure, but it has been frustrating that nothing seems to be happening.”
By Jim Kinney
27 June 2007
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