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Permits for small wind projects a relative breeze

Permits for small-scale wind turbines gained a fast permitting track in the Adirondack Park. Combining regulation with New York state's push for alternative energy sources, staff at the Adirondack Park Agency established a general permit to move residential wind power more quickly through the regulatory review process. APA commissioners unanimously approved the measure at their recent meeting.

RAY BROOK - Permits for small-scale wind turbines gained a fast permitting track in the Adirondack Park.

Combining regulation with New York state's push for alternative energy sources, staff at the Adirondack Park Agency established a general permit to move residential wind power more quickly through the regulatory review process.

APA commissioners unanimously approved the measure at their recent meeting.

Since wind turbines are generally more than 40 feet tall, they come under Park Agency jurisdiction in accordance with the Tall Towers Policy enacted in 2002.

Different Review

Mark Sengenberger, APA director of regulatory programs, said the general permit was designed to provide a more expedient process at the least cost to homeowners.

It takes less time to obtain a general permit because projects do not go before APA commissioners.

APA staff will analyze proposed sites for residential wind turbines using new desktop models - and balloon tests, if necessary - at no cost.

APA received 46 letters about the proposed policy, Sengenberger said.

"They were generally opposed as written with concern for substantial invisibility in the Towers Policy."

Some letters called the new... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

RAY BROOK - Permits for small-scale wind turbines gained a fast permitting track in the Adirondack Park.

Combining regulation with New York state's push for alternative energy sources, staff at the Adirondack Park Agency established a general permit to move residential wind power more quickly through the regulatory review process.

APA commissioners unanimously approved the measure at their recent meeting.

Since wind turbines are generally more than 40 feet tall, they come under Park Agency jurisdiction in accordance with the Tall Towers Policy enacted in 2002.

Different Review

Mark Sengenberger, APA director of regulatory programs, said the general permit was designed to provide a more expedient process at the least cost to homeowners.

It takes less time to obtain a general permit because projects do not go before APA commissioners.

APA staff will analyze proposed sites for residential wind turbines using new desktop models - and balloon tests, if necessary - at no cost.

APA received 46 letters about the proposed policy, Sengenberger said.

"They were generally opposed as written with concern for substantial invisibility in the Towers Policy."

Some letters called the new permit "regulatory creep," suggesting added APA control.

Invisibility

Other letters suggested APA's "substantial invisibility" clause discourages the use of wind energy in the park.

Substantial invisibility is a regulatory benchmark that has been labeled an oxymoron. It is inherently subjective in any application by commissioners during tower review, since it guides regulation by measuring the aesthetic impacts that tall towers would have on vistas seen from public areas, primarily roads, navigable waters and recreational places.

The term lacks any one-size-fits-all application.

"Substantial invisibility is intended to be applied on a site-specific basis," Sengenberger said.

But the Adirondack Park has about equal amounts of public and private lands, and most private property is surrounded, adjoins or is at least within sight of state-owned land.

Commissioner Richard Booth suggested small-scale wind turbines should be regulated as accessory structures using a different set of criteria, aside from "substantial invisibility."

Still, any tower more than 40 feet tall, as a rule, defaults to APA review, and the new wind-turbine general permit incorporates the Tall Towers Policy.

Siting

To obtain the permit, a small-scale wind turbine would have to be carefully sited, Sengenberger said, to include supporting plans with structure elevations.

The plan would have to conform to Towers Policy based on desktop analysis and APA field review and not require detailed engineering or environmental study.

In applying for a general permit, homeowners would provide a description of their wind turbine and a site plan, along with a tax map of the property, necessary deeds and notice of other required town or village permit approvals.

APA commissioners noted even the general permit could become outdated in a few years, given emerging wind-power technology. New turbines coming into the market now can be installed on top of a roof and below the 40-foot height threshold for APA review.

Approval of the small-scale wind-turbine general permit comes fast on the heels of a general permitting process for cell towers put into use last spring.

Both are the express effort of regulatory affairs staff under Sengenberger's direction to adopt a more user-friendly approach to APA regulatory review.

Retirement

Sengenberger is planning to retire from the Park Agency after the October meeting.

APA spokesman Keith McKeever said the longtime regulatory-affairs director has elected to close a career of more than 35 years working for New York state to spend more time with his family.


Source: http://www.pressrepublican....

SEP 15 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22170-permits-for-small-wind-projects-a-relative-breeze
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