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Alexander ZBA denies company variances to build 650-foot-tall wind turbine

By Howard B. Owens
Jul 13, 2022, 3:12pm

A proposal to build a 650-foot turbine off Dry Bridge Road in Alexander is just dust in the wind after Alexander's Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to deny Borrego Energy the necessary variances to construct such a massive structure.

The primary variance was to allow the turbine to stand taller than the 500-foot limit for windmills in the town.  The ZBA also turned down variance requests for changes to property setback requirements.

At the ZBA meeting in June, Borrego representative David Strong said the height of the wind turbine was driven primarily by changes in technology and the standards of the industry. It's just no longer possible to build 500-foot tall -- the standard when the Town approved its zoning code -- windmills.

Given that limitation, it's unlikely Borrego will pursue a smaller windmill on the property but, Strong said his company hasn't made any decisions about its options.

"We won't make any decisions at this point," Strong said. "I'm certainly disappointed that the benefits to the town and to the landowner and to the community with 10 percent (reduced cost for electricity) at least won't be realized."

The proposed 4.5-megawatt windmill would have been the only wind turbine on the 147-acre parcel as part of a community-based renewable energy project.

The 650-foot tall turbine is the only real option, Strong had told the ZBA during its meeting in June and, he reiterated that point on Tuesday evening after the project was rejected by the ZBA.

"What was clearly presented to the zoning board were reasons why you can't get turbines that are shorter than 500 feet today, commercially available in the market," Strong said. "That's the challenge today for a viable community wind project that really does give benefits to the local residents. Pilot agreements, host community grants -- these projects can only work with wind turbines around the size that we presented to the board."

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