Wild about wind in Sullivan County
“There is a definite science to the design and construction of a home-built generator, and they could really answer the need for a viable generator for areas where the average annual wind speed is lower than 10 mph,” he explained. “The largest application will probably be for off-grid users and will require a storage system for excess energy production.”
Meanwhile, SASD has been moving forward in mapping county wind resources. An American Recovery and Reinvestment grant has provided funding for a community-owned wind feasibility study to look at what wind development can do for the county at a utility-grade scale. The multi-year project has identified wind resources in the county with the goal of siting and bringing on line two wind turbine projects: a community-based and -owned turbine, where the community would benefit from the electric power, and a second one that would offset energy usage for a business.
In previous presentations, Riseling has urged county lawmakers to move into municipally owned public utilities by creating their own municipal power authority and launching their own wind program, which he said could result in a profit of $1,500,000 every year. Already, more than 100 community wind projects have been built across the country and are benefiting local taxpayers, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Attributes and topography of the land are being evaluated for large or small residential development, and landowner interest in hosting turbines has been explored. The project is within a month or two of determining several locations from which to choose for development of a small wind farm.
According to Riseling, the wind farm could feature three to six 1.5-megawatt turbines similar in scale to those that currently operate in Waymart, PA, with towers rising 250 feet and blades at 110 feet long. Smaller turbines are also a possibility. Several financial models are available for the funding and benefits would depend on the financial model selected.
Other benefits cited by Riseling include selling energy back to the grid, hiring local people to maintain and monitor, enhancing the potential for manufacturing and fabrication of components such as blades, better responsiveness to customers due to the local ownership and providing a hedge against future rises in costs of fossil fuels. Being community-owned would also improve transparency and increase the potential for discounted rates.