LOCH SHELDRAKE – A nearly three-year effort to build a first-of-its-kind experimental wind turbine on 1.5 leased acres at SUNY Sullivan is being abandoned, marking the second doomed wind-turbine project at the college.
New York City-based Environmental Technologies LLC will pay to have the 111-foot-high structure dismantled beginning June 1, SUNY Sullivan announced Monday.
The decision came after Environmental Technologies’ president, Sam Ikeda, twice won extensions of his deadline from the county Legislature.
“It was his machine and it was his call, and he decided he wanted to take it down,” said Vincent Begley, a spokesman for SUNY Sullivan.
The turbine’s disassembly will end a troubled project launched with high hopes when Environmental Technologies broke ground in November 2008, promising a completed turbine the following spring.
The 1.5-megawatt turbine, totally financed by ET, would have relied on vertical blades, instead of traditional propeller-like blades. It also would have been the first vertical turbine of its size if finished on schedule, the company said.
Ikeda predicted it would save the school as much as 50 percent on electricity, and college officials saw it as a no-cost training tool for the school’s wind-energy curriculum.
But the project became mired in delays. Ikeda blamed the setbacks on weaker-than-expected winds that required him to reconstruct the turbine’s gearbox.
“I sincerely appreciate SUNY Sullivan entering into this experiment with us, and hope they will continue to expand their commitment to sustainable energy,” Ikeda said in a statement.
Dick Riseling, executive director of the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development, said there were questions about SUNY Sullivan’s suitability as a site for the relatively short vertical turbine.
A 2005 study concluded that wind speed at the college was too weak for a commercial-scale wind farm but could support a turbine for on-site energy consumption.
The conclusion was based on a roughly 260-foot-high traditional turbine.
“You’d have to have a super-efficient system – very, very high,” said Riseling.
The end of the vertical turbine comes after the college sued Saratoga Springs-based Atlantic Energy Solutions Inc. over a traditional wind turbine the company never installed despite being paid.
State Supreme Court Judge Mark Meddaugh ordered Atlantic Energy and its owner, Timothy Brock, to pay the college $2.2 million in damages and about $13,000 in legal fees in May 2010.
Failed Turbine Tale
Feb. 2008: Town of Fallsburg Planning Board approves $2 million turbine project from Manhattan-based Environmental Technologies. Company will pay $2,000 a year to lease a 1.5 acre lot at Sullivan County Community College on Loch Sheldrake campus. The 111-foot-tall structure to be built end of May. All electricity produced by the turbine will be sold to the college.
May 2008: Sullivan County Legislature approves lease agreement with Environmental Technologies. Company to build windmill within 180 days. Resident Kenneth Walter says he will fight the project because it lies only 500 feet away from his elderly mother’s house and makes too much noise.
Nov. 2008: College officials, lawmakers and guests join Sam Ikeda, president of Environmental Technologies as he and SCCC president Mamie Howard-Golladay open a wooden keg of sake to celebrate ground-breaking for the turbine. Construction to be finished by January and online by spring.
Sept. 2010: Environmental Technologies seeks second deadline extension to April, 2011, to finish building turbine, raising doubts among county officials about the project’s completion.
May 2011: Ikeda says company will dismantle turbine June 1, restore property to its original condition.
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