September 22, 2010
New York

New tower to provide weather info

By Nancy Madsen, Johnson News Service, 22 September 2010

CAPE VINCENT – A new meteorological tower put up here last week will share real-time wind-speed data online.

St. Lawrence River Public Power Association, which is behind an effort for a community-owned wind-power project, put the tower up in a field on founder Hester M. Chase’s farm, Bedford Corners Road.

“We need the community to actively talk about how large a project it wants, where it wants a project and how it wants the revenue to come back to the community,” said Loren W. Pruskowski, vice president of Sustainable Energy Development, which helps community wind projects. “We’re attempting to build that cooperation.”

The association won a $99,000 grant through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program to conduct a feasibility study on the capacity of the local grid, find possible sites for wind turbines, analyze the wind resource, and collect data on noise and environmental issues.

Because the council is a nonprofit entity, the Black River-St. Lawrence Resource Conservation and Development Council applied for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant on behalf of the association. Information on the project is available on the council’s website.

Erecting the tower took two days of site preparation and one day pulling the tower up. Staff from the development council will visit occasionally to check the tension of the guy wires and make sure ice doesn’t move concrete blocks holding the wires on the ground.

The 165-foot tower has three anemometers, which measure wind speed at different heights.

“We use the three to figure out what the wind speed will be above the top of the tower,” Mr. Pruskowski said. “The rotor has such a large diameter and the wind speed across the rotor changes so much. There’s still a lot more science to figure out there.”

The firm needs a year of data to complete an analysis of wind speeds, he said. To get financial backing, major developers usually collect three to four years of data. The company will look at cost and revenue scenarios.

“No matter what, there are costs involved,” he said. “We just need to talk with the community about the concept of community wind and what kind of consensus can be reached on the size of the turbines and the number of turbines.”

The association is organizing the next community forum to start those discussions.

It received a zoning permit in July from the town Planning Board. The spot was chosen after a study showed the distribution system, lot lines and property with leases with other wind power developers.

“We had a community forum to actually pick the spot,” Mr. Pruskowski said.

And farm operations also played a role.

“In consultation with my brothers, we chose a field with no tractor work around it,” Ms. Chase said.

A sensor at the top of the tower records the wind speeds. Live wind speeds will be available online soon, possibly on the council’s site.

“We’ll make it so anyone can look at it at any time,” Mr. Pruskowski.

With the association’s permission, the wind data will be shared with anyone.

“They could correlate their data to this and save time and money,” he said. “Hopefully, we could work together cooperatively – I think it’s possible.”

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