Town Board considers $1.8 mil bond for wind turbine

01/13/2011 1:43 PM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The 270-foot tall wind turbine at the town's sewer plant would cost as much as $1.8 million, but once it's operating, it will generate enough energy to account for about 43 percent of the energy currently used there.

The head of Riverhead Town’s sewer department is hoping to move forward with plans to build a wind turbine at the department’s headquarters off Riverside Drive now that wind tests have confirmed the estimates outlined in a study last April were accurate.

Town Board members say they will hold a public hearing soon on the plan.

Constructing the 270-foot tall wind turbine would cost as much as $1.8 million, but once it’s operating, it will generate enough energy to account for about 43 percent of the energy currently used at the sewer plant, and about 21 percent of the energy used once a state-mandated $18 million upgrade is completed, according to Peter Rusy of DHL Neutral Systems, the company that did the $40,000 study last year.

The debt service on the $1.8 million would initially cost the average taxpayer in the town sewer district about $21 in additional taxes for the first year, but that amount would drop sharply in subsequent years and the energy generated by the turbine would offset debt payments by year seven, according to sewer plant supervisor and department head Michael Reichel, who discussed the proposal with the Town Board Thursday morning.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the cost of the project would be key to determining whether the board decides to move forward, because once the $18 million upgrade is done, the sewer district won’t have much money left in surplus.

“If we didn’t feel this was in the best interests of the town, we wouldn’t be doing this,” Mr. Reichel told the board.

The turbine would ultimately generate about $300,000 in energy savings for the town, he said, and there would be times when it would generate more energy than needed, but there currently are not provisions in place to allow the town to sell energy back to LIPA.

The department last summer erected a 160-foot tower called an “anemometer” which measures wind currents, at the plant. Mr. Rusy said that while that device has shown that the wind estimates made in the 2010 study were accurate, he’d like to leave it up until May to get more data.

The proposed turbine would be on a 180-high tower and hub, but the blades would have a 177 foot diameter and when the tallest blade is vertical, it would reach a total height of 270 feet from the ground, Mr. Reichel said.

This size was determined by the study to be the optimum size for a wind turbine at this site, Mr. Rusy said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio asked Mr. Rusy and Mr. Reichel if they had asked for any preliminary feedback from residents near the plant, and whether the turbine would make a lot of noice.

Mr. Reichel said the houses near the plant “are never going to see it” because the plant is screened by trees. He said it would only be visible from distant locations like Sound Avenue and Gabreski Airport.

As for noise, Mr. Rusy said the wind makes its own sound naturally, which drowns out any noise from the turbine. He said the sound from the turbine was measured at 48 decibels, which is below the 50 decibel limit in the town noise code.

The Town Board plans to hold a public hearing on the expenditure for the wind turbine, but has yet to schedule it.

“I just want to know that the neighbors on that road know when the hearing is taking place,” Mr. Walter said.

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14 Comment

  • somehow I just don’t buy it. I’m sure, regardless of whether they put the turbine in or not, rates will rise just as they always have and they’ll give some excuse for the hikes

  • “The turbine would ultimately generate about $300,000 in energy savings for the town”. What does this mean?? After the $1.8 million cost is offset by savings in electricity then the life span of the turbine will be another $300K in savings??

  • Robin- as usual financial info is not clearly written, but i think …300K is per year savings. By year 7 ,the sum of thenannual savings are equal to the 1.8 cost

  • No, it will not generate $300,000 in saving per year, it will generate $300,000 in net savings over 7 years, not counting maintainance and repair costs over that period. Turbines are maintaince intensive of course, but that will be downplayed by the company selling this to the town.

    I will ulitimately lose money for the taxpayers, it sure feels good to be “green”, eh.

  • Yup thats a possibly acurate interpretation….and it raises more question. whats the amortization period of the bond ? is profit after interest and depreciation ? what is the importance of the seven year measurement?Again , the reporting of financial info is usually not

  • more questions… are there tax losses that could be used by third party equity owners? should the town lease the faciltty rather than own it? what is the sourse of the maintenace cost estimates ?

  • Now if they put that wind turbine at Town Hall where all the hot air is then we’d be talking real money savings.

  • Here’s a clarification of what the consulant, Peter Rusy said. In year 14, there would be a net gain of $300,000 for the town from this, since much of the bond would be paid off by then. That’s just for year 14. In year 25, when the turbine is near the end of its life, he says the savings for that year would be about $500,000, and over the entire life of the project, he says the savings will be about $4.9 million. So that would include the cost of building and whatever energy they save, at least according to Peter Rusy, who did the feasibility study.

  • Type your comment here.Thanks . that is helpful information, suggests there is a significant cushion ( 4.9 vs 1.8) . Still , town taking equity risk may not be preferable to third party ownership with town lease. If this is possible town savings would be lower, but less risk ( maintenance costs, life of turbine etc). Sorry for being a pest ( mba, engineer )

  • All the town would have to say is” Stu is going fishing” and there would be all the wind one would ever need… from any direction.

  • Don’t be fooled by these salesmen. A wind turbine will be disaster for any town or place. It kills, kills and keeps on killing animal habitats and migrating waterfowl and all you folks care about is money, money,money. See the impact studies via the web. A’non has it partially right.

  • Well, I hope somebody gets my message so thing doesn’t happen, it’d be a sad day for the planet.
    See my post below my message. The proof is in the pudding.

    online RHD LOCO al doesn’t want to hear “The Truth” and that’s S.A.D.(Stupid Arrogant Demeanor).
    Nuff Truth said.