Schenectady County

Wind turbine planned at GE plant

General Electric Co. plans to build a 300-foot-tall wind turbine on its property in Rotterdam to pow

General Electric Co. plans to build a 300-foot-tall wind turbine on its property in Rotterdam to power parts of the plant by 2009.

County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara said GE announced the project during a meeting with local and county government officials Friday afternoon in Schenectady. The proposed tower would be roughly a football field tall, similar to one the company erected last year at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Massachusetts, and would generate 1.5 megawatts.

“It’s going to be the first of its kind in the area,” Santabarbara said. “It’s going to be a showpiece.”

GE Spokesman Dan Nelson confirmed the plans Friday. He said the turbine would be nearly identical to the one built at Jiminy Peak and would be used to power the company’s Renewables Global Headquarters, among other buildings at the plant.

“We plan to submit the permits later this summer and hope to have it installed by summer 2009,” he said.

Nelson said GE has conducted tests and determined there is sufficient wind. He was unsure how much the project would cost.

Worries about carbon emissions linked to global warming has spurred an expansion of GE’s wind turbine business. In November, the company announced a $39 million expansion of its Renewables Global Headquarters in Schenectady, a move that is anticipated to bring nearly 650 additional jobs to the plant in coming years.

GE has already announced three major contracts to build wind turbines, including $2 billion worth of projects for the Chicago-based Invenergy LLC and $700 million for the Texas-based Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.

Jiminy Peak’s turbine came online last August and cost about $3.9 million, according to a news release issued by the ski resort last year. Dubbed “the Zephyr” by the resort, the 253-foot-tall tower has three 123-foot-long blades and produces 4.6 million kilowatt hours of energy per year – about 33 percent of the total electricity consumption of the resort.

The tower made Jiminy Peak the first mountain resort in North America to generate its own power. Resort officials expect the harnessing of wind power coupled with energy conservation will reduce the resort’s energy costs by nearly 50 percent in the first year.

GE’s project announcement comes at a time when several Schenectady County towns are considering wind turbine ordinances. Officials in the towns of Rotterdam and Princetown are drafting regulations guiding the development of wind projects.

Santabarbara, who is also the chairman of Rotterdam’s Industrial Development Agency, said the project would face several approvals from the town. He said officials from the town and the Rotterdam IDA are looking forward to developing the project with GE.

Likewise, Rotterdam Supervisor Steve Tommasone said he supports GE’s effort to expand in the county and is eager to hear more about the project.

“That’s fantastic news,” he said. “I’m very supportive of anything we can do to bring those types of projects to our community.”

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