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Rotterdam GE’s wind turbine plans move forward

Rotterdam IDA Chairman Angelo Santabarbara said plans for General Electric Co. to build a 300-foot-tall wind turbine that could generate up to 1.5 megawatts of power for the company’s plant are moving forward.

GE spokeswoman Jan Smith confirmed plans to build the tower. She said the tower could be used to power the company’s Renewables Global Headquarters, as well as other projects at the plant.

“There’s a fast-growing U.S. market for wind power,” said Smith. “This project is a great sign since it is located at the headquarters for Renewables.”

Santabarbara, who learned of the project in late April, said that Rotterdam should continue to embrace green projects. He cites the SI Group’s biomass boiler project as another flagship initiative that retains jobs in Rotterdam.

“This would be the only tower like it in the region,” said Santabarbara.

Santabarbara said the tower could power parts of the plant by 2009. Santabarbara said GE officials already tested the area to see if it was capable of producing the necessary power. Tests proved there is sufficient wind in the area.

Santabarbara said the GE project would be subject to several town permits.
The tower plan follows proposals by other wind farm developers, which are currently in front of planning commissions in the towns of Princetown and Rotterdam.

Vermont-based Reunion Power received final site plan approval from the Rotterdam Planning Commission in February to install a 197-foot, temporary meteorological tower off Crawford Road.

Jim Mirenda, development manager for Reunion, said the temporary tower would measure wind speed to determine the feasibility of turbine instillation.

While no wind towers currently stand in Rotterdam, an identical tower to the one proposed by GE was installed last year at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Massachusetts.

The $3.9 million tower, called the “Zephyr,” stands 253 feet and is equipped with three 123-foot blades, according to the resort’s Web site.

The turbine produces nearly one-third of the resort’s power with 50 to 60 percent of its production capabilities coming in Jiminy Peak’s busy winter skiing months.

Officials are unsure how much the Rotterdam project will cost, but the tower ties in with November’s expansion of GE’s wind turbine business.

The $39 million expansion of its Renewables Global Headquarters is anticipated to bring about 750 high paying jobs to the region within a few years.

According to Smith, GE has been increasing its sales of wind turbines nationwide. Earlier this month, the company completed a giant $2 billion sale of 667 wind turbines to oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, owner of Texas-based Mesa LLP.

“He plans to build the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle,” said Smith.

Ross Marvin, Spotlight Staff


29 May 2008