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Personal wind turbine in Cape shut off after alarming neighbors

CAPE VINCENT – A personal wind turbine on County Route 7 was shut off Wednesday after alarmed neighbors complained that the turbine blades were spinning “out of control” in recent high winds.

“The wind got so bad up there and it’s been spinning so fast, it’s scary. It looks like it’s going to take off at any moment,” said Mary C. Grogan, a neighbor who has protested the turbine since it was erected in 2009. “It has never run before. This is the first time it has operated.”

Cape Vincent firefighters responded after complaints were made but determined that the turbine posed “no immediate danger,” said town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey.

The turbine’s owner, Roger D. Alexander, said Wednesday that he was testing the 92-foot turbine that stands on his 35157 County Route 7 property but declined further comment.

Clifford J. Schneider, who is trying to contact the turbine’s manufacturer in China to see if this is normal behavior for its products, suspects that the turbine’s furling system – which turns the windmill in or out of the wind depending on wind speed – has failed or is broken.

“It’s constantly sticking its nose to the wind and the tail is flapping,” he said. “It hasn’t been running for two years and he decides to test it in a gale?”

Mr. Schneider took a video Tuesday of the “malfunctioning” turbine and emailed it to Ms. Grogan, a seasonal resident, worried that the turbine would damage her unoccupied home.

After comparing pictures of the turbine he took Wednesday with the ones he took in 2009, Mr. Schneider said, he noticed a frayed wire that suggests that the cable on top the wind turbine broke off.

“Obviously, the thing is broken and it isn’t functioning properly, but at least it’s shut down,” he said.