Article

Will Wind Power Come to Oswego County?

The idea of creating alternative sources of power in Oswego County is not a notion that is gone with the wind.

A major initiative to construct a wind turbine in Oswego County—spearheaded by GE Wind Energy—fell through the cracks several years ago, mainly because the timing was simply just not right.

The plan was to set up a prototype for offshore wind turbines in Oswego.

At the time the project was on the front burner in Oswego; it was thought to mesh well with Gov. George Pataki’s policy of supporting renewable energy projects.

The turbine was also a mode to place the city on the map, while the project was thought to round out other forms of energy already being produced locally—such as nuclear and hydro.

However, GE’s 3.5-megawatt turbine was entrenched in the design stage at the time. Additionally, the proposed site at the NRG facility—also known as the Oswego Steam Station—was scrapped in favor of a location at Alcan, now known as Novelis.

According to L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County (OOC), GE needed to establish its turbine in time to qualify for a federal tax credit, but due to problems developing its prototype, was reportedly unable to make the deadline.

GE never did establish the prototype in the United States.

Additionally, Alcan was transitioning and spinning off into... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A major initiative to construct a wind turbine in Oswego County—spearheaded by GE Wind Energy—fell through the cracks several years ago, mainly because the timing was simply just not right.
 
The plan was to set up a prototype for offshore wind turbines in Oswego.
 
At the time the project was on the front burner in Oswego; it was thought to mesh well with Gov. George Pataki’s policy of supporting renewable energy projects.
 
The turbine was also a mode to place the city on the map, while the project was thought to round out other forms of energy already being produced locally—such as nuclear and hydro.
 
However, GE’s 3.5-megawatt turbine was entrenched in the design stage at the time. Additionally, the proposed site at the NRG facility—also known as the Oswego Steam Station—was scrapped in favor of a location at Alcan, now known as Novelis.
 
According to L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County (OOC), GE needed to establish its turbine in time to qualify for a federal tax credit, but due to problems developing its prototype, was reportedly unable to make the deadline.
 
GE never did establish the prototype in the United States.
 
Additionally, Alcan was transitioning and spinning off into Novelis, effectively placing the wind turbine project on the back burner, Treadwell noted.
 
Special
 
"It is still something Novelis has interest in pursuing," Treadwell said. He said eventually it will return to Novelis’ "to-do" list.
 
"We still believe at some point there will be wind power, although at a modest level due to our geographical position," Treadwell said. Other areas such as the Tug Hill Plateau in Lewis County feature more favorable wind conditions than those evident in Oswego County.
 
That fact has not gone unnoticed. Shipments of windmills for the Tug Hill Wind Farm are continuing to flow into the Port of Oswego, creating economic benefits for the community.The Tug Hill project, in Lewis County, includes the towns of Harrisburg, Martinsburg and Lowville. It currently has about 100 wind turbines.
 
The Oswego port received 120 turbines in 2005, and 75 are expected this year. The project will make Tug Hill the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi River.
 
NO GO
 
Buddy Stemple, vice president and general manager at Novelis in Scriba, said the high cost of wind turbines is the reason why the project has not gone forward.
 
GE’s prototype wind turbine carried a price tag of approximately $7 million. The company investigated other options, but found that although less expensive turbines were available, it did not fall within Novelis’ price range.
 
Furthermore, power demand at Novelis reaches "huge peaks," Stemple said. "You couldn’t build enough wind turbines to handle our peaks, which can reach 70 megawatts."
 
The base load at Novelis is approximately 18-to-20 megawatts.
 
"The economics didn’t work," he said. "It’s cost prohibitive from where we stand."
 
Stemple said the wind power concept will not be revisited until the economics of wind power changes significantly.The manufacturer originally proposed going offshore with a wind turbine, although Novelis’ plans called for several wind turbines located on site that can be used for prototypes.
 
Environmental concerns had arisen as well, mostly centered around the cost to the region’s migratory birds and the notion that the 300-foot tall turbines would block the view of Lake Ontario. Noise pollution also became a concern.
 
The Lake Ontario shoreline is regarded as a major migration for birds.
 
SHOWS INTEREST
 
Constellation Energy, owner and operator of Units I and II nuclear power facilities at Nine Mile Point in Scriba, has expressed interest in delving into wind power, Treadwell said.
 
An ongoing project at Clarkson University is attempting to develop a small turbine prototype that is more affordable to build and could operate independently from a wind farm.A "distributed" wind turbine used on a smaller scale could serve the energy needs of several consumers with excess being sold to the power grid.
 
Historically, wind turbines have been extremely expensive to manufacture and install, Treadwell said.
 
He noted there is presently a high financial cost attached to developing and installing wind turbines.
 
"But computers were once outrageous in cost too," he added.
 
Treadwell cautioned that wind power should not be considered the exclusive source of energy for consumers in Oswego County, mainly the area does not feature a constant wind flow.
 
Treadwell said future technology is also geared to develope turbines that can operate effectively in a low-wind environment.
 
"I certainly see wind power as another component of the energy cluster in Oswego County," Treadwell said. "With advances in technology, it will become more viable."
 
The OOC director said he doesn’t see wind power as being a major driving force in economic development in terms of generating jobs.
 
Treadwell said wind power will be viewed as being involved in an integrated support system to help develop and support economic development projects by providing lower-cost power.
 
"In the past, it hasn’t been that way," he said.
 
Treadwell said the keys to wind power development lies in reducing its cost and developing turbines which can produce power more efficiently at lower wind speeds.
 
The OOC head said if Novelis moves forward on its project, wind power could become a reality in Oswego County in the short term. He said Novelis is "renewing consideration for doing that type of project."
 
He added that technology concerning wind turbines has changed over the last several years, which may result in Novelis taking a different tack.
 
Treadwell noted that Novelis has a leg up being that it has already undergone the site plan review process, conducted environmental assessment studies and held the appropriate public hearings in the town of Scriba.
 
"They are pretty much already way ahead of anything else that could happen in the county," he said. "Unless the project changes significantly in terms of scope."
 
STILL HOPEFUL
 
Brian Braginton-Smith, president of the Sustainable Research Group, said the initiative in Oswego County several years ago became a fragmented effort, with the involved parties following different paths.
 
"It lost momentum due to that fact," he said.
 
Braginton-Smith said the company he was once affiliated with—UPC Wind Partners—was bought out by the Sustainable Research Group in 2003.
 
He said establishing off-shore wind turbines is still a popular concept.
 
He said SRG is waiting for several wind power projects in the area to "settle out" before engaging in both off-shore and land-based opportunities.
 
He said the debate concerning off-shore wind power development has crystallized into who has the permitting authority to make it a reality.
 
He said the Army Corps of Engineers, for example, has the permission to build turbines for special purposes but not the right.
 
Braginton-Smith said legislation is needed in order to establish permitting guidelines for offshore wind power to proceed.
 
"There really isn’t a matrix," he said.
 
SRG was formed as a parent company for divisions such as Community Wind Power LLC.
 
It specializes in distributed wind development by working with various communities, municipalities and private owners to promote sustainable wind energy development and to help improve the nation’s environmental and energy future.
 
"Oswego could be an important center for the evolution of wind power," he said.
 
Braginton said he is looking forward to returning to Oswego with a fresh plan and partners to pursue wind energy.
 
"If you build it, they will come," he said.


Source: http://www.oswegocountybusi...

APR 1 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2032-will-wind-power-come-to-oswego-county
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