RAY BROOK – The State Adirondack Park Agency, at its monthly meeting Thursday, approved one project for a wind turbine and sent another project for a boardwalk to an adjudicatory public hearing.
The 101-foot-tall wind turbine was proposed by Bruce Kilgore and Nancy Dow, who live in the town of Saranac in Clinton County, in the northeast corner of the Park. The one-kilowatt-system turbine would only need three hours of wind a day to supply power to their home, which would be completely off the grid.
“Green living is something I have been interested in since I was 16,” Kilgore said. “I had always wanted to build an alternative energy home and be off the grid.”
Kilgore and Dow submitted their application for the wind turbine in 2004, but concerns about its visibility and the impact to surrounding scenic vistas delayed its approval. So Kilgore and Dow decided to do a visual analysis of the proposed turbine with a mock installation. They erected a temporary structure and took photographs from many points along the surrounding roads to prove the tower was not very noticeable and did not detract from the natural beauty of the area.
APA spokesman Keith McKeever said granting this permit is a good step in a green direction.
“It’s a good opportunity for clean energy,” he said. “It can happen and not have a negative impact on the scenic appeal of the Adirondacks.”
In a PowerPoint presentation, the applicants showed the board photographs of the temporary tower from many different angles and distances. They first tried a balloon test, but that did not provide a clear example because the wind wouldn’t allow it to reach its full height of 101 feet and still remain straight.
“There were concerns initially that it would stick above treeline,” McKeever said. “But as you could see, it does blend with the hillside.”
The APA received letters in support of the project from two environmental advocacy groups: the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Council. John Sheehan, spokesperson for the Council, said they support clean energy that is well sited and are happy that the project won approval.
“Our biggest concern is that a wind tower can be visible from the surrounding countryside or that it could be harmful to bats and birds, but with the height and size of blades on this one, it won’t be an issue.”
Kilgore said the permit process was made unnecessarily lengthy because the APA treats all structures over 40 feet tall the same and does not differentiate between wind towers for residential use and bigger commercial towers.
“The process has been just like as if we had been a communications company,” he said. “We are nowhere near the size project a cell tower would be. Hopefully, the agency will be looking at ways to simplify the process for those who just want to supply their own green power.”
McKeever said the agency is looking at developing a different permit for residential wind towers, which are much smaller and have less negative impact on surrounding lands than commercial towers.
By Heather Sackett
Enterprise Staff Writer
13 July 2007
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