After more than three years, multiple delays and a rigorous application process, Michael Janisch may soon have his windmill.
The Town of Dunkirk Planning Board held its meeting Thursday to discuss Janisch’s application under the new law on wind energy conversion systems.
Janisch lives at the end of Roberts Road Extension near the Thruway. He has been working with North Coast Energy Systems of Erie, Pa., during the lengthy process. The company has been working in wind energy for 20 years and has been installing the smaller windmills around the country for seven years.
Janisch, a science teacher at Silver Creek Central School, said he was unwavering in his desire for a windmill even after the wait.
The proposed windmill would stand 140 feet tall with a lattice tower and rotating top, much like that in the town of Pomfret on Route 5.
Janisch and his wife Mandy want to use the windmill to offset their electric bills.
“I don’t see the price of electricity going down,” Janisch said.
The plans for the windmill would feed wind generated electricity back into the grid as their home draws power out of it. Janisch decided to stay “on-grid” because it was more cost effective than the “off-grid” battery option.
Janisch also noted that he intends to wean himself off natural gas over time, at some point to be living on totally green electricity.
“We were just looking for a way to create a smaller carbon footprint for us and the future,” Janisch said.
Living next to the Thruway, the Janisches are used to noise, however the windmill will actually make less noise than the trucks zooming by according to North Coast Energy Systems owners Joe and Lisa DiFrancisco. Lisa related the sound of a properly working windmill to a “swish” and a windmill in high wind conditions changing direction to “a distant helicopter … chopping sound.”
She also dispelled fears of throwing ice.
“The way they are designed, ice is meant to shed off the blades. If the balance of the blades is off then it will stop and the heaviest blade will point down until the ice melts off and the next blade sinks and the process goes on until there is no more ice,” she said, adding that with a motorized start wind mill that may be a concern but not with this model.
The planning board reviewed Janisch’s application and asked many questions.
“If the winds pick up beyond a certain point will the blades stop?,” Craig Lyford asked.
Lisa DiFrancisco affirmed that, that is the case where the windmill tops out at a speed of about 35 miles per hour.
The board also asked about the impact on birds, stormwater mitigation, power outages and safety precautions.
Lisa DiFrancisco dispelled worries of bird fatalities, referencing an informal study by the American Wind Energy Association. The statement can be found online at www.awea.org/rn-release-02-15-11.cfm.
Joe DiFrancisco assured the board that stormwater would be diverted into Hyde Creek and that the wind mill would shut off in a power outage. He also informed the board that plans included a metal sheeting to be placed on the bottom 12 feet of the structure to deter unauthorized climbing.
In the end only a scale drawing of the plan was requested and the planning board unanimously recommended the application be sent to the town board, who is lead agency on the project.
The public hearing on Janisch’s windmill will be set at the next regular meeting on March 8 in the town hall at 7 p.m.
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