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September 16, 2014
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Engineer responds to Denning windmill controversy

Sherret E. Chase

Regarding the small privately owned wind turbine electric generator proposed to be placed above Yaegerville Road in the Town of Denning, it should be obvious to everyone that energy produced from clean accessible renewable sustainable “green” resources is better for everyone than to burn coal, or gas, or nuclear fuel in a thermal electric generation facility. We should encourage the use of wind energy. Each project though small, though tall, will be an incremental improvement for our environment. Also most small wind systems are predominantly manufactured with material and jobs in North America.

The most prevalent concerns voiced by neighbors about any project are those of “noise” and “visibility.” This is a NYSERDA approved system and will be inaudible at more than 400 feet distance. This system may, in fact, be visible within the Town of Denning from as little as about 200 feet at the top of Yaegerville Road and about 300 feet along the end of Spencer Road. The one thing that cannot be ignored is that the towers must be tall. Height is necessary for access to high average wind speeds with low turbulence. Wind turbine heights must be about twice that of any surrounding obstructions, including trees, to be clear of destructive turbulence. Every additional twenty feet of tower will access about 10% percent more energy at relatively little additional cost.

The testing and certifications required of the machines approved for the NYSERDA program assure that these systems are safe, reliable, productive, quiet and are installed properly. These systems are reviewed and approved under the rigorous requirements of the FAA-Federal Aviation Authority; NEC-National Electric Code; IEEE-Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers; UBC-Uniform Building Code; NREL-National Renewable Energy Lab; ITAC-Interstate Turbine Advisory Council; SWCC-Small Wind Certification Council; DEC-NY Department of Environmental Conservation; PSC-NY Public Service Commission; DA&M-NY Department of Agriculture and Markets; PE-NY Professional Engineer; and the utility company. There is nothing technical remaining of concern, unless a jurisdiction has uncompromising concern about visibility.

A critical date is the evening of December 3 with the Ulster County Planning Board. Please voice your support to the board (planning@co.ulster.ny.us) for this one small wind turbine electric generator as a relatively harmless demonstration project for the Town of Denning. Then the Town Zoning Board of Appeals (townhall@denning.us) meets on December 11 for the final review and (we hope) permission.

I am the engineer/installation contractor for this project and have been working with wind energy for several decades. My oldest nearby machine is 28 years in operation in the central Catskills with no objections from neighbors. Please share your support with a copy to me, sherretec@gmail.com.

[Sherret E. Chase is the owner of Chase Wind and Chase Construction Management, Inc. He lives in Ashokan, NY.]