First Conference on Weather, Climate, and the New Energy Economy
8th Users Forum on Weather and Climate Impacts


A Community Wind Energy Project in Rural Albany County, New York State

Kathleen E. Moore, Integrated Environmental Data, Berne, NY; and L. W. Pruskowski

Increasingly the “new energy economy” features distributed generation of many types. There is a growing interest in local, or “community” ownership of energy plants, including electric generation facilities. Community-based energy projects can take many shapes. In particular “community wind” projects can range from a single wind turbine placed behind the meter to offset a particular load, to farmer-owned projects selling power to the wholesale market, to municipally-owned projects. Two things that community wind projects have in common are their generally smaller size in terms of total capacity and the involvement of local community members as developers and/or owners of the project. This paper will focus on the Helderberg Community Energy wind project in rural Albany County, NYS. The project began as a NYSERDA-funded research project with the overall goal of creating a business model for community-based wind energy projects. The purpose of the model is to broaden public participation in the wind energy development process.

Under the grant-funded project several steps in the predevelopment phase of a wind project were undertaken. A wind resource assessment and an energy yield analysis were done on the basis of a conventional 50-m meteorological tower along with sodar and lidar measurements of the wind profile. There are now 3 years' worth of data available from this tower. Climatological adjustment of the measured wind speeds to the longer-term data at the Albany airport was done. In addition an environmental assessment was conducted in which community members participated in bird and bat surveys, which included the use of NEXRAD and onsite marine radar tracking of migrating birds. By the close of the externally-funded project a community-based development entity had been formed, with the mission of “develop[ing] a locally-owned wind project to address climate change and to strengthen our rural economy.”

The key lessons learned were that participation by community members increases public trust in the benefits of the project; education and outreach to community members in a variety of venues and media is critical and inspires the idea of local ownership of wind projects; a major obstacle is funding for predevelopment work.

This paper will provide an overview of the community wind model as it has been developed in Albany County, and it will also report on the results of the wind resource and environmental assessments. In addition, the experiences of the community wind group that was formed will be summarized.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (152K)

Recorded presentation

Joint Session 10, Wind Energy: Applied Modeling and Forecasting II
Wednesday, 20 January 2010, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM, B202

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