By Dan Hust
LIBERTY County residents and particularly those in the towns of Liberty, Neversink and Fallsburg are invited to participate in the discussion of a community wind farm.
Indeed, the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (SASD) and Sustainable Energy Developments (SED) are counting on that participation.
“The goal of this meeting is to gather feedback as to the level of social support each potential small wind farm site may have,” explained SASD Executive Director Dick Riseling. “This is [part of] a feasibility study on community-owned wind energy.”
Riseling is best-known as the county’s “green guru,” but this project does not involve county government or funding.
A $210,000 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development grant allowed SASD to hire SED to identify potential sites for a community wind farm, which would power local electricity users via wind turbines.
Ideal sites must have sufficient wind speeds, accessibility and buildability, said Riseling.
After scouring the county for the past year and a half, SASD and SED will unveil the details of four “best-of” sites at this Sunday’s public meeting at the Liberty Senior Center.
According to Riseling, those sites are located along Tanzman Road in Parksville, Old Loomis Road in Liberty, Walnut Mountain in Liberty and Thunder Hill in Grahamsville.
“We looked at a great many sites,” he confirmed, “and all that pool of data will be available to everybody on Sunday.”
Still, SASD and SED invites everyone in the county and the region to attend.
“The intention of the work performed in this study could be replicated and applied to other parts of the county,” Riseling said.
While SASD and SED will provide technical assistance, raising the funds and building the wind farm will be up to the community itself.
“We will write up a plan and show them the methodology,” said Riseling. “This allows people to create a business plan and go to the capital project round.”
Sunday’s gathering will give SASD and SED the feedback they need to choose one of the four sites to study intensively. Each site could host several wind turbines generating enough energy to power 500 to 5,000 homes, he added.
While the sites are within or close to the townships of Liberty, Neversink and Fallsburg, Riseling said all interested parties are welcome including those who might consider themselves opposed to a wind farm in their neighborhood.
The meeting will be held this Sunday from 24 p.m. at the Liberty Senior Center, 119 North Main Street (across from the town hall).