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Lockport couple seeks to power home with remote wind turbine

LOCKPORT – Douglas and Donna Lee Bailey believe in wind energy, so they intend to power their Town of Lockport home with it.

But the wind turbine won’t be built at their Sharon Drive home.

Instead, the tower will be erected on a 19-acre vacant field they own several miles away, on Old Saunders Settlement Road.

A remote metering plan makes the project possible, said Thomas E. Fleckenstein of Niagara Wind & Solar, the company working with the Baileys.

The town Zoning Board of Appeals gave the Baileys an area variance last week, which was needed because of the height of the turbine: 140 feet, plus the rotating blades that add another 18 feet to the height, according to Padma Kasthurirangan of Niagara Wind & Solar. There were no zoning issues because the Old Saunders Settlement Road field is zoned industrial.

Only one tower will be allowed on the field, and a 250-foot setback from the nearest property line was designed into the project.

The turbine will produce 24,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, although the Baileys hope to obtain a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which Fleckenstein said would pay 50 percent of the project’s cost. He wouldn’t say what the price would be.

Councilman Paul W. Siejak said the Town Board is mulling the notion of a wind turbine law, although it might not see the light of day for another six to nine months.

Siejak said one idea is a height limitation, perhaps holding the turbines under 250 feet.

“We don’t want these 450-foot structures in the Town of Lockport,” Siejak said.

The law also might limit the number of turbines to one for every 10 acres of land.

The Town of Somerset has some restrictive laws on wind turbines, but it appears they will avail the town little in its fight against a Virginia company’s plan for a massive wind power development near the shore of Lake Ontario.

Apex Clean Energy has signed leases with several farmers in Somerset and neighboring Yates, and may propose turbines as many as 70 turbines, each 600 feet high, when formal plans are filed in the next few months.

However, the state’s Public Service Law, revised in 2011, allows the state to override local regulations by placing the decision on locating wind power projects in the hands of a siting board chosen by the state and dominated by state officials.