Its' hard to imagine the immensity of the wind power turbines used in industrial scale windfarms. They range from 330' to 470' high - as tall as the Pyramids of Egypt. For the turbines planned for Prattsburgh, the 40' x 12' nacelle alone weighs 73 tons, and it sets on top of a 262' tower. The spinning rotor will be over 230' across - nearly 80 yards - and the tips of the 115' blades will extend the structure to 389' high. The picture on the right provides some perspective - Please note the person at the top of the turbine.
In the maps section of this website, you can see the intended location for the substations. If you look at the Fenner site and explore the Photographs section, you will be able to see the process involved with installing wind turbines and see what a substation looks like. Please note, substations for all other types of power generation are zoned industrial - but not with wind turbines.
In addition, the dotted lines in the Ecogen map are intended to depict underground cables, though it is unclear whether the developer has secured these rights-of-way, even years later.
What is the problem with windmills? They're big - but they look harmless enough. What's the big deal?
Setting setbacks for light structures such as microwave towers is common. Standards vary from 1 to 1.5 times total tower height. However, wind towers are far more problematic, with constantly moving machinery – a 230’ spinning rotor weighing up to 30 tons with rapidly rotating blades. A number of the operating characteristics of the machines warrant setback from property lines far greater than 1.5 times their 384’ total height. However, there is no zoning protection for landowners in Prattsburgh – and there are no State standards in place for wind towers, as few have been erected in New York.
In addition, Steuben County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA), lead agent for both the Ecogen and UPC projects in Prattsburgh, has granted the developers highly favorable wind turbine siting: 1200' from homes with year-round certificates of occupancy – in some cases as close as 850' – and 489' from the property lines of non-participating landowners. And as these woefully inadequate setbacks are from the center of the tower rather than the blade edge, the leading edge of these rotating blades can be sited as close as 374' from your property line and 1085' – in some cases as close as 735' – from a house with a year-round certificate of occupancy.
Many properties in the Town have country roads and farm roads at the edge of property lines, with homes, cabins or prospective home sites along these roads. If the towers are sited too close to these property lines, the rotating blades, as well as the ice and debris that is thrown from them, will pose a risk to non-participating landowners, making it potentially hazardous for them to enjoy their own property. This is one of the reasons why Advocates for Prattsburgh is asking for significant setbacks from property lines.
A related critical issue is that leasing landowners and the wind farm developers should be required to secure liability insurance sufficient to cover potential personal injury or property loss that may be suffered by adjacent, non-participating landowners. In addition, the leasing landowners and the windfarm developers should be required to indemnify us, their non-leasing landowner neighbors, against any legal liability which WE may incur through any injury or loss suffered by guests or visitors to OUR property, resulting from the operation of THEIR industrial machines.
Windmills operate in fits and starts, depending on the availability of wind. Most of the towers for these projects will be sited on exposed ridges and hilltops at higher elevations, typically 1800’-2000’. Icing and ice storms of varying severity are not uncommon in these areas of our Town. During the winter, these nearly 400’ wind machines will be prone to ice throws. There is a risk that lumps of ice can form on them in still cold weather and then be thrown significant distances when the wind rises and the blades begin to move. "In those areas where icing of blades does occur, fragments of ice might be released from the blades when the machine is started." Professor Wolfrum wrote on this subject: "Some ice layers 150mm [5 inches] thick have been detected and their mass has been as high as 20 - 23 kg/m [13-15 lbs./foot] (proceedings BORKAS 11Helsinki 1994, p219). He demonstrated that these fragments could travel up to 550 m [1800’] and land with impact speeds of 170 mph."
The following sites describe the issues that have been experienced with this problem globally. Ice throws pose a significant safety risk for non-participating landowners, and anyone else potentially in range. Setbacks should be set at sufficient distance to completely eliminate any threat to their health and safety from ice throws.