Tapping the winds for electricity; Vermont company wants to build 168-foot test tower for turbine project
GRAFTON – Reunion Power is prospecting for a site in town to build a wind turbine.
Reunion Power development manager Jim Mirenda made inquiries of town Planning Board officials during a recent meeting. He said his company, with offices in Manchester, Vt., is looking for a place to put a test tower to gather wind speed and direction data.
“We have not identified a particular site yet,” Mirenda said by phone after the Oct. 15 meeting. Mirenda was provided an application for site plan review at the meeting, officials said.
Planning Board officials were receptive to the idea, Mirenda said. The company, which also has offices in Ramsey, N.J., was informed that town guidelines governing the building of wireless communications towers could be applied to the test tower.
Mirenda said the tower’s dimensions would depend on where it was placed.
The Rensselaer Plateau, an elevated section of land between the Taconic Ridge to the east and the Hudson River Valley to the west, has previously been mentioned as a possible turbine site in the area. The plateau covers roughly a 12-mile area (20,000 acres) running south from Grafton Lakes State Park, to the Cherry Plain State Park in Berlin.
Town Supervisor Tyler Sawyer said the company was looking at a site on the west side of Grafton Lakes State Park at the end of Agan Way on land owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“We told them there are still a lot of environmental issues to sort through, but we have to be looking at alternative energy sources these days,” Tyler said.
It is not the first time wind turbines have been proposed for Rensselaer County.
After trying for a couple of years to test a site in Petersburgh, Williams College in August 2004 canceled plans to erect electric-generating windmills near the Petersburgh Pass four months after the town was critical of the proposal.
Alternative energy enthusiasts first aired their idea in the fall of 2002 for a wind farm on land the college owns on the elevated and windy pass on the Taconic Ridge. The towns of Berlin and Petersburgh at first mostly welcomed the idea and the college filed an application with the town Zoning Board to erect a test tower, a 168-foot-tall thin metal monopole with an anemometer – a wind speed and direction measuring device – near the top.
After that application was received, protests against the plan arose at Town Board meetings. Residents said the windmills, which could stand 330 feet tall to the tip of a vertical propeller blade, would mar the scenery and be noisy.
There is only one working wind turbine in the county, though it has an academic purpose.
RPI built a small collapsible version, a 10-kilowatt, three-bladed, 80-foot-tall windmill on its Troy campus between Sunset Terrace and Tibbits Avenue.
Reunion Power is one of the companies involved in a proposal for a wind farm on a ridge line between Gore and Pete Gay mountains. The turbines, each 400 feet tall, would together produce 27 megawatts of energy, enough to power half the 26,000 homes in Warren County.
The company is also part of a proposal to build 24 wind turbines in Cherry Valley in Otsego County.
By Bob Gardinier
2 October 2007
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