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Morristown officials considering tower to collect wind data

MORRISTOWN – Town officials have discussed erecting a tower to measure the wind coming off the St. Lawrence River.

Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said the town’s wind power committee believes the data could reveal that Morristown has a good wind source and that a wind farm is viable here. A cost estimate for the tower wasn’t available.

Wind power developers haven’t really focused their attention on Morristown, town officials said. Good readings from the tower could entice companies to build here. The economic benefits of a wind farm have caught the attention of town leaders.

“We have considered picking up the cost of putting up a wind tower,” Mr. Putman said.

The advantages to having a wind farm include royalties from towers for property owners who host them, property taxes that the school district, town and county would receive on the development, and the addition of renewable power to feed the grid.

The neighboring town of Hammond has drawn interest from an Oregon company looking to build a wind farm in the community.

PPM Energy of Portland, Ore., developer of Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County, wants to install 50 wind turbines in Hammond. The proposed 100-megawatt project could cost $200 million.

The project would consist of 50 2-megawatt turbines, reaching a height of nearly 410 feet each. PPM Energy has a test tower to measure wind speeds on property near the St. Lawrence River on County Route 6. The company will erect a few more test towers this summer in other areas of the town to collect additional wind data.

Several obstacles remain for the Hammond wind farm project, including determining how to transmit the electricity generated, conducting environmental studies and obtaining the proper permits and the acceptance of landowners.

The closest transmission line is in the hamlet of Brier Hill, about 6 miles from the village of Hammond. The transmission line runs from a substation into the city of Ogdensburg.

Mr. Putman said he hopes the transmission line, if built, would be capable of handling additional volume should a wind farm come to Morristown.

“It would be a tax savings to the people in the township,” Mr. Putman said.

The wind power committee was formed last year to craft an ordinance to regulate wind farms in the town. The committee is using a model wind farm ordinance created by the St. Lawrence County Planning Board and Environmental Management Council as a guide. A draft ordinance remains several months off.

By David Winters
Times Staff Writer

Watertown Daily Times

6 April 2008