November 8, 2007
New York

Tower gathers data for possible wind farm

Tower-mounted meteorological equipment atop a ridgeline near Lake Desolation in northern Greenfield has already begun transmitting data back to engineers in Austin, Texas.

Doug Colbeck, Airtricity’s vice president of Northeast operations said Wednesday it will take a year to get four seasons of data from the 163-1/2-foot-tall meteorological tower.

It’s the “wind people’s” job to figure out if there is enough wind on the mountain just outside the “blue line” border of the Adirondack Park to justify spending $2 million to $3 million and develop the site into a power-generating wind farm.

“I call this the ‘wet your finger and stick it in the air to tell which way the wind is blowing stage,” said Doug Colbeck.

“The ideal would be steady 18 miles an hour winds with cold-dense air and from one direction. But of course you never get that.”

Airtricity, the American arm of an Irish energy company, proposed more than two years ago erecting 25 power-generating windmills on the site.

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.

Greenfield Supervisor-elect Richard Rowland said he lives within sight of the meteorological tower site. And he hadn’t noticed it going up.

“I haven’t heard any opposition to the project,” Rowland said.

He’s been to wind farms in central New York where the turbines themselves become tourist attractions.

“I hope they do some of that here,” he said.

Current Supervisor Al Janik said one of Airtricity’s issues was transportation: how to get the segments of turbine tower, blades and equipment to the location.

The “capsule” or hub of the turbine which contains the generating equipment is the size of a school bus.

The company eventually figured out it could bring equipment in from the west, up South Shore Road to Edinburg and up Fox Hill Road to the site, Janik said.

By Jim Kinney

The Saratogian

7 November 2007

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