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Officials in Porter seek time to gain funding for wind turbines

PORTER – Town officials want some extra time to get access to $320,000 in federal grant money to build four wind turbines in the town.

The town received the competitive grant funds from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority in February 2010 and would lose its access to the funding if they don’t complete the project before the March deadline.

Town Engineer David Britton told the Town Board at its last meeting that the six-month extension should give the town adequate time to complete the four 120-foot wind turbines, which are planned to be built on Balmer Road, all at a height below the 140-foot water tower.

Britton said a site plan and environmental quality review are under way.

Two of the turbines would be built on 4.2 acres of town-owned property at the water tower complex on Balmer Road. Britton said that there are plans to build the other two towers on adjacent land owned by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, also on Balmer Road, but that officials are still waiting for a review of the project by the U. S. Army Corps.

“There are site limitations,” Britton said after the meeting about putting more than two turbines on the town’s land.

Britton said the grant allows for the town to build towers on town-owned property or negotiate a deal to lease land for turbine use.

The turbines are a smaller version of the large, three-blade windmills and are designed to be used to generate electricity, which can be sold back into the power grid. They are expected to reduce the town’s energy footprint by approximately 50 percent.

In another matter, the board learned from Highway Superintendent Scott B. Hillman that town crews were called out two times to plow and salt for the month of December.

“Last year our crews went out virtually every day in December, 29 out of 31 days,” Hillman said after the meeting.

While it was unclear what the cost savings would be to town residents, Hillman said it was “definitely good news.”

The board also reappointed its current grant writer, Bernie Rotella, who had not been appointed by the board at its reorganizational meeting.

The board said Rotella works on a month-to-month basis at $800 a month, and most board members agreed that they wanted Rotella to continue his work on several grants that are already in progress.