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Energy expert to share findings of a community wind project study in Cape Vincent


CAPE VINCENT — A small community-owned wind project in Cape Vincent might be beneficial for the area but it is ultimately up to residents to determine whether they want to adopt the idea, according to energy experts.

Loren W. Pruskowski, chief financial officer and co-founder of Sustainable Energy Developments, on Saturday afternoon will share the findings of a feasibility study for a 1.8-megawatt turbine in Cape Vincent and is inviting residents to come ask questions.

His presentation at Recreation Park on James Street will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday and a question-and-answer session will follow.

The study found that the estimated $5.4 million project — taking into account $500,000 in grants it might be eligible for — would pay itself off in less than 10 years, assuming a 3.6 percent annual escalation in energy costs and the continuation of the federal wind production tax credit.

The 130-foot structure, including the blades, would generate 5,598 megawatt-hours of energy annually with an estimated capacity factor of 42.6 percent.

A typical U.S. household consumes about 11.8 megawatt-hours per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy — meaning that, in theory, the turbine used for SED’s study could power more than 470 households.

Mr. Pruskowski said the capacity factor shows how much electricity a particular turbine would produce in a given area compared with how much it would produce if it operated at 100 percent of its capacity all the time.

While turbines types and wind patterns are different, wind farms in general have a production factor in the low 30 percent range, he said.

Mr. Pruskowski said he will be breaking down the study’s findings Saturday and provide a road map to move forward if the community is interested in doing so.

So far, nobody has shown interest in undertaking the project, he said.

The owner would bear a $170,629 annual cost for post-warranty maintenance, lease payments, a capital reserve and insurance. But a majority of the community-controlled project’s revenues and electricity produced would stay local.

The study was initiated by the St. Lawrence River Public Power Association and funded through a $99,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant program.

Wind speed data was collected over a 12-month period at a 165-foot meteorological tower installed in September 2010 on association founder Hester M. Chase’s farm, Bedford Corners Road.

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