LIBERTY – In addition to a community wind farm on a ridge overlooking Liberty, the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (SASD) and Sustainable Energy Developments (SED) are hoping to site a wind turbine above the county’s Social Services complex.
Last week, SASD and SED representatives met with the county to discuss taking advantage of wind speeds that consistently measure around 13 miles per hour.
“You have a pretty steady wind resource,” SED Project Manager Luke Spencer told officials.
He estimated that a 260-foot-high windmill set on a hill 1,000 feet behind the Travis Building (off Sunset Lake Road in Liberty) could power the entire complex, which uses around 3,000 megawatts of electricity a year.
Thus the $4 million construction costs would be recouped within about a decade, he added.
Utilizing a federal Rural Business Opportunity Grant, SED and SASD now plan to study the proposal in depth, including a cash flow analysis and the various methods of ownership and operation (i.e., a private-public partnership versus public-only).
SASD Executive Director Dick Riseling, who advises the county on “green” energy matters, said he hopes to present this to the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council as a “net-zero emissions” project, possibly making it eligible for state funding.
He estimated the windmill itself could bring in around $360,000 a year in revenue to the county, as it’s expected to generate more electricity than the county itself would use.
A smaller, 215-foot-high windmill was briefly discussed, but Deputy Health and Family Services Commissioner David Sager agreed with SASD and SED that – at a difference of $1.4 million in price – the larger project had a better economy of scale.
“For $1.4 million more, you’re essentially getting a larger bang for your buck,” he observed, noting that the smaller windmill wouldn’t generate even half the energy the larger one would.
This project, however, is itself half of a larger effort by SASD and SED to use the federal grant to stimulate wind development in the region.
At the same meeting last week, Riseling and Spencer spoke with three property owners whose land may become home to a two-windmill community wind farm.
Dubbed “Liberty Ridge” in deference to its location just north of the village, the project could generate electricity for up to 1,000 local homes, Spencer estimated.
Two turbines 260 feet high would stand on the ridge separating Liberty and Parksville, accessed via a to-be-built path off Tanzman Road.
The property owners – Don Nichols, Jon Sutherland and Al Bitjeman – evidenced interest but are awaiting further study by SED and SASD.
Riseling said the overall income from hosting such a facility could be close to $1 million a year.
But his real hope is to make it a model effort of how a community could invest in its own energy infrastructure (SASD and SED will neither build nor operate the wind farm).
“It’s to show this is actually possible – and it’s to show people it’s possible for them to do it,” he explained.
The Town of Liberty is currently working on zoning ordinances that would deal with such wind farms.
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