State findings: Sewer plant turbine not worth it

05/04/2011 4:28 PM |

TIMES REVIEW FILE PHOTO

A study on constructing a wind turbine at the Riverhead Town sewer plant underestimates the costs of building the facility and overestimates the amount of energy it would generate, according to the New York State Power Authority.

The Town Board asked NYPA to review the study —which was commissioned by the town — by the private consulting firm Neutral Group. NYPA’s report was issued Wednesday.

Its conclusion raised concerns about the ultimate benefit of the turbine and contrasted the conclusions reached by Neutral Group. That firm said the project would generate over $5 million in energy savings over 25 years.

“I feel good that we had the Power Authority look at this, because originally we had an industry source doing the study and I was never comfortable with that,” said Councilman George Gabrielsen, who met with NYPA officials Wednesday, along with Supervisor Sean Walter.

“Now that we had NYPA come in and look at it, I feel better,” he continued, “because this is what they do throughout the state and according to their study, it’s a negative. It doesn’t pay.”

Mr. Gabrielsen told the News-Review Wednesday that Neutral Group left out the so-called “soft costs,” such as site preparation costs, in its initial study.

Peter Rusy of Neutral Group said staffers there are willing to speak with NYPA officials to go into further detail on what numbers to use in computing cost estimates.

“There are a couple variables we have to come to agreement on,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “NYPA’s estimates were very conservative, and we have a good understanding of the costs for a project like this.”

He feels NYPA hasn’t looked at how Neutral Group arrived at its estimates.

“We’ve done a lot of work on this,” Mr. Rusy said. “I would have told [town sewer plant supervisor] Michael Reichel from day one if I thought this was not feasible.”

NYPA estimates the construction costs of the 750 kw turbine would be $2.6 million, which is about $1 million more than the $1.6 million estimate in Neutral Group’s April 2010 study. NYPA also estimated that the electrical cost per kilowatt hour was 12 cents and the energy escalation rate, or LIPA rate hikes, to be 2.5 percent per year. Neutral Group put the cost per kilowatt hour at 18 cents and the annual cost of escalation rate at five percent. Based on these numbers, NYPA estimates that the project would not generate money for the town.

Neutral Group altered their estimates in April of this year and upped the construction cost to $2.295 million.

NYPA also altered its electrical cost estimate to match Neutral Group’s new estimate of 14.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

But even with those changes, NYPA officials still questioned if the project would work financially.

“Based on our more conservative approach, NYPA still has concerns regarding the ultimate economic benefit to the town of the proposed wind turbine,” NYPA officials wrote.

Residents of Riverside Drive and other streets near the sewer plant have raised opposition to the turbine project, citing noise and other factors.

Mr. Walter has visited wind farms in Atlantic City and upstate Madison County and reported that the plants were relatively quiet.

tgannon@timesreview.com

Comments

comments

28 Comment

  • Good job Tim!

  • Thank you for listening to the “Truth”. I’ll send Walter my invoice for services rendered.

  • First hurricane the town would be paying off the bills with no wind turbine and no insurance money. Wind at 90mph can flip these over and the town is on its own for paying off the debt!!!!

  • Touring the Atlantic City sewage wind turbines is a sales tool all developers use, but it is a ruse. There’s a lot of other constant background noise at the plant from their machinery, the inverters for their solar arrays, and also from Rt. 30, a major Atlantic City access road. This does not hold true in most residential areas, especially at night. PLUS, you can stand under a wind turbine and you won’t hear too much noise. The blade circumference is kind of like the speaker and projects outwards. The noise will be disturbing from a few hundred feet away on out. The swishing sound is caused as each blade passes the tower and it produces frequencies well below the audible range that carry a long way and easily pass through structures. Those frequencies (below 20 Hz) are called infrasound can impact a person’s health (open links below). Infrasound is used in the kind of sonar that travels far undersea and may interfere with both whales and dolphins’ abilities to navigate. When it hits a home the walls can amplify the sound, especially with rural and suburban homes as they’re not built to urban codes. Here are two articles from the First International Symposium on the Global Wind Industry and Adverse Health Effects recently held in Picton, Ontario:
    1) http://www.windvigilance.com/symp_2010_proceedings.aspx
    2) http://www.epaw.org/events.php?lang=en&article=ca1
    Here’s a great article on how wind turbines have failed to provide the needed power for England: http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm/6310/Britains-Wind-Farms-are-No-Spin-Zones-When-Cold-Hits
    And you must read this sworn testimony by a licensed appraiser on wind turbines and property values:
    http://nowindfarms.com/blog/testimony-of-michael-mccann-on-property-value-impacts-in-adams-county-il/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CwwsSharedItemsInGoogleReader+%28Cohocton+Wind+Watch+-+Google+Reader%29&utm_content=FeedBurner

  • If the Board President and those that voted to hire Dr. Cohen knew that the school year commenced July 1, then why did they not require his contract to begin on July 1? And if you knew that a new board member had been elected by the taxpayers in May, why did you not have an organizational meeting prior to July 1 as as to allow the new board member to debate the matter and vote? Could it be that your majority would have been threatened by a reasonable voice on the Board. This board engaged in one of the fastest Superintendent searches every undertaken in this district because it started the process so late and it exploited the time frame to suit special interests on the Board. This is not an example of due diligence. It is an example of incompetence and continued failure to do the best for the district’s taxpayers and our kids. The extra money you are paying for Dr. Cohen to learn on the job could have gone towards repairs to any number of infrastructure issues such as the middle school track, etc.

  • 1sgw3k – The board would have liked to have the contract effective 7/1, however, Dr. Copel is one of the very few superintendents whose contract expires on 7/31, rather than 6/30. Legally, a school district cannot have 2 superintendents. In effect, the consulting agreement allowed the superintendent to start on 7/15, without the title of superintendent, at the same exact rate of pay he would have received if we were to start his contract on 7/15. This rate is $875 per day compared to the current superintendents rate of nearly $1,000 per day. Again – this is not extra money, it is the rate of pay that we would have paid him had we the ability to start his contract on 7/15.

    With regard to your query on the reorganization meeting – you cannot seat a new member until the outgoing board members term expires. This is in July and cannot legally be done earlier.

    You refer to special interests on the board making this decision which is not in the best interest of the district, children and community. Please explain what those special interests are?
    You and a few others can continually make these FALSE allegations but my interest have always been clear and public and I have acted in accordance with them:
    (1) I have 4 school aged children in the district
    (2) I am a taxpayer

    Additionally, I do not let things cloud my judgement/actions like:
    -Hiring relatives in administrative positions,
    -Being close friends with administration/faculty in the district,
    -Having family members receiving frequent stipends for activities in the district,
    -Engaging in business activities with the district.

    You can continue to throw out false allegations which do damage to the district while hiding behind an anonymous posting, but it does no one any good.

    For those of you who read these blog postings, please note that the consulting contract with Dr. Cohen is NOT a signing bonus, nor is it money thrown away. It was simply an arrangement to get him to start on 7/15 in a legal manner and allow for some overlap with existing administration, which is what many community and board members had wanted.

    Rich Pluschau
    rcpswrboe@gmail.com

  • Sen LaValle and Assemblyman Losquadro are “on the right track.” But there’s more to do! Each time this type of “deal is cut” by ANY educator, we must remember what we are putting in place are PEOPLE THAT WILL ONLY FURTHER TEACH METHODS OF FINANCIALLY RAPING AND PILLAGING THE TAXPAYER!

    The days of dedicated teachers who do their work because it is what they want to do are gone. What we have is an enterprise. There are many areas where “dedication to career” and “commitment to service” has been overcome with greed and abuse of the Taxpayers who have always respected the highly educated professional.

    You will see this in lawyers, those who will suck out every last penny fro a client and drop them unfairly 3 or 4 years later only because they’ve cleaned out the bank accounts, and there are those dedicated to law that serve on 18b panels and as Legal Aid volunteers.

    There are doctors that pillage our medical assistance programs with fraudulent billings and get away with millions and there are the many that volunteer in charity and more. Good doctors care about the patient and not which insurance pays more. I referred a friend on Medicaid to a top cardiologist at St Francis Hospital a year ago and he was shocked that this top national ranking MD had no issues with Medicaid.

    Am I the only one who remembers schools with “volunteer coaches,” summer programs with volunteer staff and a host of other volunteers that helped a school provide more for its students?

    In the Rye School District, Dr. Cohen made $172,640 in 2008 and in 2009 and 2010 his contract went to $181,667 a raise of $9027. If he stayed on the job, he was “worth” possibly $190,694 in his next contract in 2012. His “dedication” to the school board of Rye, NY was “SOLD OUT” to Shoreham-Wading River for $210,000 and a “sweet bonus” for 10 days worth more than any raise he ever got!

    Sad to say, he is smarter than all of us, after all, we the Tax Payers always sem to be making the dumb decisions! He will succeed in educating more of his kind: money hungry, undedicated, non committal deserters, who will spend all they can and when the well is dry…. move on to another town as far away as they can go. Why? because they can’t look Taxpayers straight in the eye and say: I’m here to serve your community in the best way I can and am committed to it.

    Bah! Carpetbagger.

    Thank you Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Losquadro!

  • Dr cohen ‘s comensation increased much more in terms of purchasing power . I lived for many years in lower westchester where real estate prices and real estate taxes are MUCH higher than in eastern suffolk.

  • First, you must be mistaking me for someone else. I made no personal disparaging remarks about you; nor did I accuse you of anything. This was the first time I have ever written to this column. The fact remains that you and your colleagues on the board fail to understand that the SWR residents did not agree to give Dr. Cohen any “arrangement” beyond his contract. I attended more than one community search meeting for the Superintendent. I don’t recall even one request by a resident for “overlapping” of administrative services and no one on the search team advised the public that the Board was interested in paying for overlapping services. The Board President’s comments today in his email circulated to the community that Dr. Cohen lost a month on his contract is ridiculous. Dr. Cohen simply negotiated better than the board did. Let’s see if he can negotiate as good for our kids as he did for himself.

  • So why couldn’t he just start on July 31st?

  • 1sgw3k – forgive me if i inferred something you did not imply.
    My comment was based on your statement that actions were taken “to suit special interests on the Board”.
    Do you care to explain what those “special interests” are?
    You are welcome to email me or call me to discuss in detail any time.

  • I’m away on vacation and won’t be receiving e-mails until Thursday morning, April 7.
    If you have an urgent concern please contact News-Review editor Michael White at mwhite@timesreview.com.
    Otherwise, I look forward to getting back to you when I return.

    Thanks,
    Grant Parpan
    Web Editor
    Times/Review newspapers

  • Further, I also referenced, and corrected, several points of misinformation in your comment. Please give me a call or email and we can discuss in detail.

  • I’m away on vacation and won’t be receiving e-mails until Thursday morning, April 7.
    If you have an urgent concern please contact News-Review editor Michael White at mwhite@timesreview.com.
    Otherwise, I look forward to getting back to you when I return.

    Thanks,
    Grant Parpan
    Web Editor
    Times/Review newspapers

  • Very interesting….it seems my reply to 1sgw3k was hit by an autoreply from Grant Parpan of the North Shore Sun.
    Very interesting.

  • Very interesting….it seems my reply to 1sgw3k was hit by an autoreply from Grant Parpan of the North Shore Sun.
    Very interesting.

  • I’m away on vacation and won’t be receiving e-mails until Thursday morning, April 7.
    If you have an urgent concern please contact News-Review editor Michael White at mwhite@timesreview.com.
    Otherwise, I look forward to getting back to you when I return.

    Thanks,
    Grant Parpan
    Web Editor
    Times/Review newspapers

  • I’m away on vacation and won’t be receiving e-mails until Thursday morning, April 7.
    If you have an urgent concern please contact News-Review editor Michael White at mwhite@timesreview.com.
    Otherwise, I look forward to getting back to you when I return.

    Thanks,
    Grant Parpan
    Web Editor
    Times/Review newspapers

  • Rich,

    I’m taking a vacation from work beginning tomorrow, so I set up an auto reply around 10 p.m. As the moderator of our commenting program, I have the ability to moderate through e-mail replies. Unfortunately, because of this, my auto replies were being posted to the site. If you notice, my auto reply is posted on every comment made since 10 p.m.
    I’ve since changed the settings on our commenting program so this doesn’t happen for the remainder of my vacation.
    I can assure you I am not 1sgw3k, although I can see why the auto reply might have led you to believe so.
    I don’t anonymously comment on news stories on this site. As the editor, I have no reason to. As you know, I penned an editorial on this matter today and signed my name to it.

    — Grant

  • Rich,

    I’m taking a vacation from work beginning tomorrow, so I set up an auto reply around 10 p.m. As the moderator of our commenting program, I have the ability to moderate through e-mail replies. Unfortunately, because of this, my auto replies were being posted to the site. If you notice, my auto reply is posted on every comment made since 10 p.m.
    I’ve since changed the settings on our commenting program so this doesn’t happen for the remainder of my vacation.
    I can assure you I am not 1sgw3k, although I can see why the auto reply might have led you to believe so.
    I don’t anonymously comment on news stories on this site. As the editor, I have no reason to. As you know, I penned an editorial on this matter today and signed my name to it.

    — Grant