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Turbine plan has ‘whole package’  

Credit:  By Ryan Papaserge/The Evening Tribune | Posted Mar. 6, 2015 | www.eveningtribune.com ~~

HARTSVILLE – Matt Lawrence and his wife make it a point of teaching their three sons, – who are 9, 7, and 4 years old – where everything they use on a daily basis comes from.

And if the Hartsville Town Board approves plans to put a small wind turbine generator on his property, Lawrence will be able to include power into that “everything.”

“We have a garden and we’ve canned food from our garden,” Lawrence said. “We’ve made maple syrup, we’ve had honey bees. We’ve cut wood from our wood lot. Electricity’s just another resource that we use every day. I want my boys to appreciate where these things come from. We found that they eat their vegetables if they had a hand in planting a garden. Maybe they’ll turn the lights off if they have the turbines spinning.”

In reality, Lawrence’s effort is more of a three-pronged one.

There’s United Wind, a Brooklyn-based company that sets up turbine leases with customers; Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. (SED), a Ontario-based operation which is hired by United Wind to install turbines; and Lawrence, the customer.

Matt Vanderbrook, senior project and sales manager at SED, said that Lawrence plans on installing a Bergey wind turbine – a turbine SED has installed 35 of to date, including one on the Alfred State College campus.

“United Wind is sort of who started working with the Lawrences,” Vanderbrook said. “They came to the table with a lease offering … essentially we have about 10 projects underway at the moment and several others in the works. (United Wind has) about 27 projects either installed or partially installed today.”

An influence into Lawrence’s effort is the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. According to Lawrence, NYSERDA projects that a 10-kilowatt turbine installed on a 140-foot tower will produce 14,509 kilowatt powers of energy, enough to qualify the Lawrences for a $39,509 installation grant.

There’s one hang-up, however: Hartsville’s wind law, enacted in 2009, limits turbines to a tower height of 80 feet. NYSERDA will not offer an installation grant if a tower is built at that height, which would prevent the Lawrences from going forward.

“The reason is because NYSERDA wants to invest in projects they know will succeed,” Lawrence said. “These are not numbers that are easy to find – they’re available to anyone, but they’re very site-specific and that’s just for our latitude and longitude.”

Hartsville Supervisor Mike Muhleisen said during last month’s town board meeting that “the technology’s available” regarding an 80-foot tower that could be approved.

“Everyone on this board would really like to see this happen,” Muhleisen told Lawrence last month. “It might not be within this particular contractor’s scope … Unfortunately, the project as you presented before is outside that scope.”

However, Lawrence praised Muhleisen and the Hartsville Town Board for their cooperation regarding the approval of the project. Lawrence has attended meetings since November where the project has been discussed and Muhleisen keeps in contact with Lawrence.

“(The February meeting) was the latest step in what is an iterative process,” Lawrence said. “We first went in front of the board in November and presented our application to the board. We returned in December at their request with more information, returned in January with more information, returned in February with more information. What happened in February really has been pretty typical of this process since the beginning.

“I understand the job that the town has to do and they have to be very thorough when granting a variance like the one we’re requesting. Matt Vanderbrook from SED and I – and my wife, of course – we’re all involved in providing the town with whatever pertinent data they need to grant a variance and make a decision.”

Lawrence also said that Muhleisen told him he was “looking forward to a resolution.”

“Mike has said time and again that the wind law is in place to encourage wind development in the town of Hartsville,” Lawrence said. “We want to give them every opportunity to demonstrate that and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Vanderbrook said SED has yet to handle a project where NYSERDA funding hasn’t been involved.

“That’s how we’ve operated,” Vanderbrook said. “We’ve done 30-35 Bergey installations around the state and all of them use the NYSERDA funding. It’s been in place for awhile … It sort of assists homeowners in doing this to save energy costs.”

Both Lawrence and Vanderbrook said the application, which nears 200 pages in length, is close to completion.

“I do think that we’re getting closer to the point that the board has everything they need to make a decision,” Lawrence said. “As a matter of fact, Supervisor Muhleisen sent my wife and me an email that spelled out some concerns which is something that we’ve been after for a while.”

Vanderbrook said the process taking place in Hartsville is nothing new.

“Most towns have some sort of height restriction,” Vanderbrook said. “Some don’t have a wind turbine bylaw, which can make it difficult. Some towns recognize the residential systems are on somewhat taller towers.”

Lawrence and his wife were required to notify every resident twice within a half-mile of where the tower would be built with a letter stating their intentions.

What resulted from the letters might be the most promising sign yet for Lawrence’s efforts.

“No one came to express concern but in fact three of the folks that received letters showed up in support,” Lawrence said. “We’re running out of reasons to say ‘no.'”

Lawrence, who serves an associate professor and certified hydraulic specialist in mechanical and electrical engineering technology at Alfred State College, even has a replica of a wind turbine in his office.

“(The February meeting) was the latest step in what is an iterative process,” Lawrence said. “We first went in front of the board in November and presented our application to the board. We returned in December at their request with more information, returned in January with more information, returned in February with more information. What happened in February really has been pretty typical of this process since the beginning.

“I understand the job that the town has to do and they have to be very thorough when granting a variance like the one we’re requesting. Matt Vanderbrook from SED and I – and my wife, of course – we’re all involved in providing the town with whatever pertinent data they need to grant a variance and make a decision.”

Lawrence also said that Muhleisen told him he was “looking forward to a resolution.”

“Mike has said time and again that the wind law is in place to encourage wind development in the town of Hartsville,” Lawrence said. “We want to give them every opportunity to demonstrate that and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Vanderbrook said SED has yet to handle a project where NYSERDA funding hasn’t been involved.

“That’s how we’ve operated,” Vanderbrook said. “We’ve done 30-35 Bergey installations around the state and all of them use the NYSERDA funding. It’s been in place for awhile … It sort of assists homeowners in doing this to save energy costs.”

Both Lawrence and Vanderbrook said the application, which nears 200 pages in length, is close to completion.

“I do think that we’re getting closer to the point that the board has everything they need to make a decision,” Lawrence said. “As a matter of fact, Supervisor Muhleisen sent my wife and me an email that spelled out some concerns which is something that we’ve been after for a while.”

Vanderbrook said the process taking place in Hartsville is nothing new.

“Most towns have some sort of height restriction,” Vanderbrook said. “Some don’t have a wind turbine bylaw, which can make it difficult. Some towns recognize the residential systems are on somewhat taller towers.”

Lawrence and his wife were required to notify every resident twice within a half-mile of where the tower would be built with a letter stating their intentions.

What resulted from the letters might be the most promising sign yet for Lawrence’s efforts.

“No one came to express concern but in fact three of the folks that received letters showed up in support,” Lawrence said. “We’re running out of reasons to say ‘no.'”

Lawrence, who serves an associate professor and certified hydraulic specialist in mechanical and electrical engineering technology at Alfred State College, even has a replica of a wind turbine in his office.

Source:  By Ryan Papaserge/The Evening Tribune | Posted Mar. 6, 2015 | www.eveningtribune.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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