Plan for a wind turbine at Riverhead sewer plant falls apart

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A wind turbine at Pindar vineyards in Peconic.

Forget about that wind turbine that was planned for Riverhead Town’s sewer district property on Riverside Drive.

Three of the five Town Board members say they no longer support the project after hearing an updated cost estimate on the job, which indicates that it won’t begin to turn a profit until it’s 18th year in operation.

Sewer district superintendent Michael Reichel had advocated building a 750 kw wind turbine that would cost the town, at most, $1.8 million to build. But the energy generated by the 270-foot high turbine was expected to provide power for the sewer plant.

Originally, it was believed that the turbine would pay off the $1.8 millon cost within 11 years and that it would then generate $5 million in energy savings over its projected 25-year life. That was according to consultant Peter Rusy of DHL Power, which did a feasibility study on the proposal.

However, a study done by the New York Power Authority found that the plant wouldn’t pay for itself until much later than that, and that the cost might exceed $2 million.

“This makes no sense to do this project,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Mr. Walter and councilmen George Gabrielsen and John Dunleavy oppose moving forward with the turbine project, although Mr. Dunleavy said his opposition was due to the height of the proposed wind turbine.

Councilmembers Jim Wooten and Jodi Giglio said they didn’t want to give up on it because there is a $470,000 in grant money available for the project that the town will lose at the end of February if they don’t move forward with the project.

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