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A complaint is blowin' in the wind; New and innovative technology or a lawsuit waiting to happen?  

LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY – Its creators say it will revolutionize the wind industry while helping to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming. A critic says it’s untested, untried and, as an unknown bit of technology, “its parts may separate, resulting in flying objects crashing in unpredictable directions.”

They are both talking about a vertical-style windmill, manufactured by a Japanese company called Environmental Technologies LLC (ETLLC).

The company claims that the windmill will generate electricity twice as efficiently as a traditional wind turbine. Also, the towers are only about 105 feet tall as opposed to the 300 feet of a traditional windmill. The smaller profile, supporters say, provides a smaller obstacle for birds and is less objectionable to lovers of view-

sheds. Moreover, ETLLC officials claim the windmill will last a very long time because the ultra-thin fan blades are coated with Liquid Glass, another product manufactured by the company, made out of quartz, which will keep the aluminum blades free of damage for generations.

All of this has local officials singing the praises of ETLLC and working diligently to help the company set up two of its vertical windmills at Sullivan County Community College, where the new green technology park will be located. The endeavor involves the cooperation of the Sullivan County Legislature, the Town of Fallsburg and community college officials.

As it happens, however, the windmills will be placed within 150 to 175 feet of a house owned by Alice Walter. Her son, Kenneth Walter, who is one of two trustees of the land on which his mother’s house sits, is not at all pleased with the prospect that these windmills will disrupt the view from the house at the very least, and at most, in his opinion, could lead to injuries or deaths.

Walter filed prior notice with lawmakers on September 28 to let them know that they would be held responsible should the windmills cause harm to any person. And he turned out to the county legislative meeting on November 15 to restate his views.

The project is designed not only to produce electricity from the windmills but also to be an attraction of sorts, drawing wind-energy experts and other curious folks to the college for a look at the new-fangled apparatus. Walter said this is an example of an “…attractive nuisance, which draws people to an area where they cause unintended accidents or other problems.”

Walter is also concerned that the windmill will be located too close to the road. The roadway is 30 to 40 feet from the proposed windmill sites, whereas most wind farms are setback 2,000 feet or more.

Then there is the question of noise. ETLLC claims the noise generated by the windmills will be “quiet as a whisper.” Walter counters, “This is a prototype. No one knows what the sound level will be.”

Lawmaker Leni Binder said that she is not opposed to looking for an alternative site on the campus, if that would help keep the peace, but others involved with the project have said the proposed sites were selected because they will provide the most wind.

As for the experimental nature of the windmills, the lawmakers are aware that this is untried technology, and Binder supports obtaining some sort of escrow account in case the windmills don’t perform as planned. However, the risk to the county is minimal because the company is going to foot the bill for the entire project.

And it seems at this point that all systems are go. Allen Frishman, the Fallsburg building inspector, said the planning board has taken Walter’s concerns and comments into consideration during the permitting process, but they won’t likely halt the project. He expects the permits for the first windmills to be issued within the next few weeks.

By Fritz Mayer

The River Reporter

29 November 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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