Vermont firm plans test structure at site near Grafton Lakes State Park
GRAFTON – A recent public hearing about a Vermont company’s plans to build a 197-foot-tall wind speed and direction test tower near Grafton Lakes State Park attracted only a few comments.
The tower is proposed by Reunion Power of Manchester, Vt., to test wind patterns to see if the site on the Rensselaer Plateau is suitable for electric-generating wind turbines. The test tower would be installed for three years, company officials said.
Town officials held a public hearing on the proposal recently and said there were no speakers for or against the proposal, only some questions.
The company has also released more specific information on where they want to erect the monopole tower secured with guide wires. The site is about a quarter of a mile north of the end of North Long Pond Road, which winds through the park and ends at the north end of Long Pond. The site is just outside the park’s boundaries.
Reunion Power development manager Jim Mirenda first made inquiries of town Planning Board officials in October about the project. Planning Board officials were receptive to the idea, Mirenda has 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. The application process is still ongoing.
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 has said the company was also 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.
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 scenic 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 be noisy and mar the scenery.
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 on East Hill in Cherry Valley in Otsego County.
By Bob Gardinier
20 February 2008
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