Schenectady County

Duanesburg drafts wind turbine rules

Duanesburg officials have drafted Schenectady County’s first ordinance aimed at regulating wind turb
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Duanesburg officials have drafted Schenectady County’s first ordinance aimed at regulating wind turbine developments.

The Town Board will conduct a public hearing on the proposed regulations on June 12. If adopted, the law would make Duanesburg the first municipality in the county to set standards for wind power projects.

Board members first considered drafting the law while they were reviewing the town’s comprehensive plan last year. Supervisor Rene Merrihew said the proposed ordinance sets easy-to-understand guidelines for smaller, residential-use wind turbines, while offering performance standards for the type of large wind farm projects pitched elsewhere around upstate New York.

“We really wanted to make it as simple as possible for residents, yet provide safeguards should big wind projects come in,” she said Thursday.

Similar wind turbine ordinances have been proposed in neighboring Saratoga, Montgomery and Schoharie counties. The towns of Princetown and Rotterdam began discussing such a law after a Reunion Power, a Vermont-based project development service, proposed building a 197-foot temporary meteorological tower in Pattersonville.

Duanesburg’s law divides wind developments into small and large categories depending on the amount of energy they would produce. Wind projects producing more than 100 kilowatts face additional regulations, which include submitting a decommissioning plan to the town, having a resolution process in place for complaints and providing a sound analysis of the noise level of the project.

The law establishes a $100 fee for small wind projects. Large wind projects would pay a fee equivalent to $500 per megawatt of “proposed nameplate capacity” of a project.

Large wind developments must be located at least 1,500 feet away from residences and a minimum of 500 feet away from public roads or off-site property boundaries. Small wind turbines and measurement towers would need to be located at a distance one and a half times the height.

The ordinance sets a maximum height of 500 feet for large wind developments, with the tip of the rotor being located no closer than 30 feet from the ground. Small energy projects are limited to a 200-foot maximum height, with their blades reaching no closer than 15 feet to the ground.

The owner of any turbine failing to convert wind power into energy for a continuous year would be required to remove the structure at their own expense, the draft law states. Anyone operating a measuring tower or wind turbine not conforming to the town code could face fines of up to $1,000 per day for each violation.

The ordinance comes less than a month after General Electric proposed the county’s first industrial-sized wind turbine at its plant in Rotterdam. Company officials indicated the planned 300-foot tower would generate 1.5 megawatts and would be used to power GE’s Renewables Global Headquarters.

Merrihew said she’s not aware of any large wind projects being proposed for Duanesburg. However, she said about a dozen residents have expressed interest in building small turbines for personal use.

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