MARTINSBURG – A developer is proposing a five-turbine wind project in the towns of Martinsburg and Harrisburg that is intended to offer lower electricity prices to area residents.
“You are going to save money on your electric bill,” Charles Karustis from EWT Direct Wind told members of the Martinsburg town Planning Board Thursday.
Like the so-called community solar projects that are being proposed in Lewis County, the EWT project would connect to the local electric grid and sell power to those within the region who sign power purchase agreements, with savings coming in the form of credits through National Grid, Mr. Karustis said.
“We’re going to be selling to the local community residents and businesses,” he said.
Projected savings wouldn’t be known until after project costs, including a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with local taxing jurisdictions, are determined, Mr. Karustis said.
The project is to include three single-megawatt turbines on leased properties owned by John H. Northrup and Ronald C. White off Steinmacker Road in the town of Martinsburg and two on an adjacent parcel owned by JNN Living Trust in the town of Harrisburg; the road name switches to McLane Lane in Harrisburg.
Since a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority subsidy program allows such projects only up to two megawatts, the project would technically be split into a pair of 2-megawatt segments and a third, 1-megawatt one, Mr. Karustis said.
The project is to be in the midst of the 195-turbine Maple Ridge Wind Farm. And, while other, larger wind farm projects in the area are proposing much higher turbines than the 390-foot ones at Maple Ridge, EWT is proposing ones that are only 326 feet.
“These turbines are actually shorter than the existing turbines that are up there,” Mr. Karustis said.
The developer, who was previously employed at an environmental consulting firm that did work on the Maple Ridge project, said he has also spoken with Lt. Col. Todd Polk from Fort Drum’s Plans, Analysis and Integration Office about turbines’ impacts on the Army post’s aircraft and weather radar systems. While unable to give a definitive answer without further study, post officials don’t expect the five shorter towers to cause a substantial difference over any interference already seen from Maple Ridge, he said.
Unlike Maple Ridge, EWT uses turbines that directly drive a generator, so no internal gears are needed, Mr. Karustis said. “The direct drive is a little quieter than gear-driven turbines,” he said.
Board members asked the developer about issues like flicker effect and impact on television signals, both of which were seen in the Maple Ridge project. Mr. Karustis said the remote location of the project means only homes of participating landowners would potentially be affected by flicker and that he would need to look further into the TV issue.
The project could be completed as soon as the end of 2018, and, once completed, it would be monitored locally by two full-time technicians and remotely from company headquarters in the Netherlands, he said.
An application to National Grid for interconnection should be completed in the first quarter of 2018, Mr. Karustis said. Because no power lines reach the project site, they would need to be extended – either overhead or underground – and upgraded from single-phase to three-phase to accommodate the generated electricity, he said.
There would also be access roads to each turbine, but the intent would be to minimize any environmental problems, Mr. Karustis said, noting one tower site could be questionable if work were found to affect a nearby stream.
“I think it sounds like a doable project,” Planning Board Chairman Michael J. Colwell said. “We just need to see more data.”
Mr. Karustis said he had made a similar presentation to the Harrisburg town Planning Board and would hope to file site plan applications relatively soon. Because it is under 25 megawatts, the project will be reviewed by local boards rather than through the state Article 10 process.
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