Cohocton Wind Watch: Lowville finishing work on turbine law
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Monday, November 17, 2008

Lowville finishing work on turbine law

LOWVILLE — While satisfied with existing wind turbines, town officials are looking to better regulate any future wind projects, both large and small.

"We just want to make sure they are done to manufacturers' specs," Lowville Town Supervisor Arleigh D. Rice said.

The Town Council earlier this month held a public hearing on a proposed wind power zoning law but is awaiting review by the Lewis County Planning Board before adopting it, Mr. Rice said.

The idea for crafting the regulations did not stem from any problems or concerns about the 15 Maple Ridge Wind Farm turbines already located within the town, the supervisor said. "I think it turned out very well here," he said.

However, current zoning law, which doesn't address wind turbines, would require setbacks of only 250 feet for the 400-foot-tall towers, Mr. Rice said.

Under the proposed law, any new wind turbines or wind measurement towers would have to be sited at least 11/2 times their height from the nearest property line, public road or other above-ground utility, unless the utility company would offer a waiver. Towers also would have to be at least 1,000 feet from any off-site residences and 2,000 feet from schools, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, active cemeteries, government offices and buildings used for public assembly .

Turbine noise would be restricted to 55 decibels at the nearest residence or public building.

Large wind turbines would be allowed in agricultural and conservation zones but not in residential or commercial ones. However, small, roof-mounted turbines would be allowed in all zones as long as they are not more than 10 feet tall on residences or 20 feet tall on commercial or industrial buildings.

An exemption is included for non-electrical windmills "used for pumping water for agricultural purposes," like those erected by the Amish. However, they still would have to be sited so that "any tipover will be harmless to others."

The proposed law also includes a section on small wind energy conversion systems for home, farm or commercial use.

Such systems would need to be on at least one acre of land, although that requirement could be met through a joint application by multiple neighboring landowners.

The proposed law suggests that small turbines are to be used only "to reduce on-site consumption of electricity," not to produce power for an electric utility or commercial wind farm. However, residents could apply for a waiver to connect the turbine to the electrical grid, allowing them to sell power when more is being produced than needed on site.

Anyone interested in erecting a wind system would have to apply for a wind energy permit from the Town Council. Proposed fees are $50 per megawatt for large turbines, $200 for a wind measurement tower and $100 for a small wind tower.

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