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Tower will test feasibility of wind power

LOCKPORT – A temporary tower to measure weather conditions is to be erected shortly in the town industrial park as a preliminary to a possible wind power or biofuels complex.

Lewis L. Staley, administrative director of the town Industrial Development Agency, said that Delphi Thermal and Interior is one of the entities interested in a possible alternative fuels project.

Delphi receives steam from a natural gas-burning co-generation power plant owned by Lockport Energy Associates on a site adjacent to the industrial park located on Upper Mountain Road near the Delphi plant.

“Our interest is purely exploratory at this point. It’s an interesting option,” Delphi spokeswoman Deborah Ayers said.

Staley, an executive of Fortistar, the company that manages the co-generation plant, said the tower would cost about $20,000 and will be paid for jointly by the IDA, Lockport Energy Associates and Delphi. Ayers said she couldn’t confirm Delphi’s involvement.

Staley said, “We’ve had Canadian companies come in, looking at [the IDA park] for an ethanol plant.” He said there has also been interest from wind and biofuels companies.

“With any one of these renewable energies, when you fill out an application, you need wind data,” Staley said.

The 197-foot tower will be up for about 18 months, measuring wind speed and direction as well as temperature, humidity and precipitation. It will be anchored to the ground by guywires, according to information disclosed at a recent town Planning Board work session.

Town Planner Andrew C. Reilly said the town is considering an ordinance next year that would regulate windmills. “They’re looking at what they can do with alternative energy,” Reilly said.

The tower would be fairly close to a 300-foot communications tower the state Department of Transportation erected behind its recently constructed garage on Junction Road. Town Attorney Daniel E. Seaman said the DOT tower would not be available for the meteorological study.

By Thomas J. Prohaska

The Buffalo News

16 September 2007