Schenectady County

Micro-turbine at Maple Ski Ridge is first in the area

Rotterdam’s first power-generating wind tower won’t be nearly as grandiose as the last one proposed

Rotterdam’s first power-generating wind tower won’t be nearly as grandiose as the last one proposed in the town.

The 2-kilowatt-producing vertical-axis wind turbine at the Maple Ski Ridge measures about 26 feet tall, which is less than a tenth the size of the failed tower project General Electric proposed building near I-890 in 2008. In fact, the odd-shaped structure near the ski center’s lodge and bunny slope is small enough that it could easily be confused with a cell tower.

“It doesn’t go any higher than the standard parking lot light fixture,” said Kate Michener, a spokeswoman for Maple Ski Ridge.

The small turbine won’t produce nearly the power as larger ones, such as the Jiminy Peak wind tower, which produces about 33 percent of the ski resort’s total energy demand. Instead, Michener said the small device will help reduce the electricity Maple Ski Ridge draws from the grid, help lower its power bills and will help make the business a bit more environmentally friendly.

“It’s by no stretch of the imagination enough to offset the power used to operate the chair lift,” she said Tuesday. “But it’s a little something.”

Titan Power Systems offered to install the tower for Maple Ski Ridge at a discount. The Rensselaer County-based company had constructed it for a different customer to film its installation, but the project never advanced.

Attractive price

The company ultimately offered the turbine to the ski center at a discount. Michener was unsure how much the tower cost, but said it’s expected to pay for itself in about seven years.

“It’s small, but will help us offset a little bit of our costs,” she said.

The company has already erected most of the so-called micro wind turbine so it could use the film footage for a national marketing campaign. The final installation of wires and electrical connections will await a waiver of site plan review by the town’s Planning Commission.

Town Planner Peter Commenzo said the wind turbine will be the first power-generating tower Rotterdam has seen to date. He said recent growth of the micro-turbine industry may mean the town will have to revisit its wind tower ordinance to ensure it’s adequate to guide the construction of such towers.

“This kind of fell into a category that we don’t really address [in the ordinance],” he said.

The tower at Maple Ski Ridge differs from the larger commercial models in that the blades stand parallel to the tower and revolve around it in a circle. The model has seven five-foot long blades that revolve in an eight-foot arc around the pole that holds them.

General Electric had initially wanted to build a 397-foot horizontal-axis turbine on its property in Rotterdam. But the Federal Aviation Administration quashed the project, after it learned the tower would encroach into the restricted airspace around the county airport in Glenville.

The company planned to move the turbine project to its property in Schenectady, but has yet to bring the project to fruition. A call to a GE spokeswoman was not returned.

Categories: Business

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