USA - Dryden makes way for wind power

Residents can use renewable energy systems at home

After months of planning, the town board of Dryden, USA unanimously approved its first ordinance facilitating the construction of household and small business renewable energy systems. While many residents agree the law approved Thursday, Oct. 5, is a move in the right direction, some feel too many barriers remain. Dryden resident Carol Schmoock, who sought a permit for a wind system earlier this year, said she is glad Dryden moved forward on allowing residential wind power, but the law “still feels restrictive.” Town supervisor Steven Trumbull said, however, he thought the board accomplished its goal of allowing homeowners to get started in renewable energy. “We have to start somewhere,” he said. “It's a living, flexible document, and we can change it.” Schmoock and long-time partner Ken Jupiter triggered the drafting of a renewable energy ordinance last spring when they were twice denied a permit to construct a wind energy system. They were refused on the grounds that Dryden had no regulations for renewable energy systems.

The new law regulates wind energy conversion systems and small renewable energy conversion systems including solar, geothermal and biomass systems. As adopted, the ordinance limits wind towers to 140 feet in height and turbines to 10 kilowatts of power. Only one wind system per lot is permitted. Other renewable energy systems are limited to 15 feet in height and one system per parcel. Exemptions to the special use permit requirement are allotted for wind systems less than 50 feet tall, solar panels mounted to the building being served or posted at a height less than the structure being served, and for geothermal heat pumps and biomass stoves. Applications for a special use permit require a $250 non-refundable fee and may be subject to a review of the system's visual impact by the town board.

Schmoock said she is “frustrated” that construction of a wind system on her property is still months away at the minimum. She and Jupiter have already secured letters of approval from their neighbors, and their proposed system is in compliance with state Energy Research and Development Authority regulations. However, she must still go before the board for a public hearing, which could take up to two months to schedule and an additional two months for a decision. Because of the length of the process, she and Jupiter will miss the 2006 building season. “The project won't happen this year, and the project has the most benefit in the winter months because that's when it's most windy,” Jupiter said. Several members of the town's conservation board voiced concerns about the law, which they deem too restrictive for farmers. “You can't run a farm on 10 kW (kilowatts),” said Tim Woods, a member of the conservation committee and owner of a 22-acre farm.

Woods made a formal presentation to the board at the public hearing in which he suggested changes to the document. Among the recommendations were changing the maximum pole height for renewable energy systems from 15 feet above the ground to 10 feet above the structure being served. This change, he said, would allow for installation of solar water heating system tanks above the ridge line of the structure. He also proposed increasing the maximum height of a wind tower from 50 feet to 80 feet before a special permit was mandatory. Woods pointed out that most trees are about 55 to 60 feet tall. Woods said he is working with fellow citizens to organize a renewable energy advocacy group, Faces in the Wind, based out of Freeville. The household and small-scale renewable energy ordinance will take effect after the town receives notice of filing from the Secretary of State. Slater said that is usually within a week to 10 days of submission, which was completed last Friday.
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, renewable energy, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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