VILLENOVA – When it comes to wind turbines, bigger is better, at least according to Mark Lyons, project manager for the Ball Hill wind energy project.
Area residents will have an opportunity to agree with, question or dispute Lyons’ claims during a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Hamlet United Methodist Church.
The central purpose for the hearing revolves around a proposed height increase for the turbines from 495 feet to 568 feet. In order to accommodate the increase in height, other project changes are being proposed as well.
“There are more advanced wind turbines available than the one that was available when we got our permits (for the project) in 2016,” Lyons told the OBSERVER. “Since we can capture more energy with it, it makes the project more economically viable.”
Along with the height of the turbine itself, the blades will also be bigger.
“The turbine we looked at in 2016 is called a V-126,” Lyons said. “The ‘126’ refers to the diameter (in meters) of the rotor area. If you look at the whole area that gets swept by the blades, look at that as a circle, the diameter is 126 meters.
“The new (turbine rotor) is 136 meters,” he added. “It’s 10 meters bigger in diameter of the rotor area.”
At 3.28 feet per meter, the total rotor diameter of the three blades measures at 446 feet.
Lyons said that along with being more efficient at capturing energy, these taller turbines are quieter. Descriptions of the turbines can be found on the project website at ballhillwind.com.
“The (impact) study is in the application and it’s on the website,” Lyons said. “We’ve studied the noise associated with them. It turns out the taller turbines are quieter than the other ones. All the impacts that you’d think would be associated with the turbines, we’ve studied all those.”
On the table for the public hearing includes amending the wind overlay district.
“Where you put your turbines in the town is called a wind overlay district,” Lyons explained. “Since we’ve added a couple of parcels to the wind overlay district, we have to amend (it). It’s a legal thing.”
Another change involves accommodating the height of the turbines.
“How far back should you locate the turbine from somebody’s property line or a town road? We’ve suggested that we should increase that because we’re going with a taller turbine,” he said.
Lyons said that another significant change is being made for the project that won’t be part of the public hearing, but will significantly reduce wetland and tree clearing impacts.
“Basically, when we permitted the project in 2016, it had a 5.7 meter overhead transmission line that ran on poles that are about 80 feet tall,” he said. “There was also a substation in Hanover associated with that transmission line. (Now) we’re going to underground the line so you won’t see it at all and (we’re going to) eliminate that substation. I think that’s an improvement on the project.”
Lyons explained in detail how the project of 29 turbines works in collecting and distributing electricity.
It starts with a generator box that is set in the each tower.
“When the rotor goes around, it generates electricity and is stored like a DC battery. The power you get out of a battery is direct current (DC). In the cell, that direct current is transformed into alternating current (AC), what you put into the grid. It’s stepped up in voltage. It goes through an inverter and a transformer. When it leaves each turbine the current is at 34.5KV of AC.
“It’s collected in strings of turbines, wired from one turbine to another in four strings.”
Lyons said that under the original proposal, those strings would connect to a substation in Hanover.
“At which point it was going to connect with the national grid system, which is the 230 KB line that runs parallel to I-90,” he said. “We call that the interconnection substation.”
The new plan completely takes out a major step. By going underground, Lyons said, they can “skip the southern collection substation and eliminate the overhead line and just run the 34.5KB underground collection lines all the way north to the 230KB system.
The Ball Hill Wind Energy project is an approximately 100MW wind farm that’s been permitted in both Villenova and Hanover. The company heading the project is called Renewable Energy Systems (RES), one of the leading renewable energy companies in North America with over 160 energy projects around the world.
The amended application for the Ball Hill project is available for public review at the Villenova town offices located at 1094 Butcher Road in South Dayton.
The amended application and the local laws and documents related to the environmental review of the project are also available on the internet at www.ballhillwind.com.
Mark Lyons is scheduled to appear at the Hanover Town Board workshop on Monday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the amendments.
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