Springville Journal

Wind turbines, the difference between upstate and downstate

Early this month, Sen. George Borello introduced legislation requiring wind turbine installations in New York City. 

According to a press release from Sen. Borrello’s office, this legislation is to mandate that NYC, “the largest consumer of energy in the state and the most fossil fuel dependent, accept turbine installations at a rate equal to that of upstate New York.” 

Approximately 3,000 turbines have been built in the U.S. each year since 2005, the United States Geological Survey reported. 

“New York state’s leadership has expressed a commitment to making the state the most progressive in the country in its energy policy and conversion to renewables. To clear the path for their agenda, they have trampled on the state’s constitutional home rule doctrine, forcing upstate localities to accept industrial wind turbine installations even when local officials and residents are fiercely opposed,” Sen. Borrello said in the press release. 

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul has pledged to be progressive in how we generate and use energy, from advocating for the use of wind and solar farms to using electric vehicles and stoves. Superintendent of Public Works for the Village of Arcade Andrew Bartz noted that as of 2022, Upstate NY currently has the most wind turbine installations installed or in the process of being installed. All turbines will have the capacity to generate 2,192 megawatts (2,192,000 kilowatts). 

To take the number into perspective, the Energy of Information Administration reported that in 2021 the average amount of kilowatt hours per month for an average U.S. residential utility customer is about 886 kWh. FreeingEnergy.com reported back in 2019 that using a megawatt-hour of electricity can power the average American home for 1.2 months. 

Local areas can differ from NYC, purely because of the difference in electricity needed for the number of people in more rural areas.  

In the press release, Borrello called out New York state stating that, “If climate change is truly an ‘existential threat to humanity’ then the cost and logistical challenges of placing wind turbines in New York City should be tackled with the same urgency of those efforts that are ongoing in other parts of the state.”

Borrello continued that upstate NY’s energy is already more than 90% emission-free.

When taking a look at how upstate and downstate rely on different sources to get their energy, Bartz cited that the New York Independent System Operator identified in its power trends reports in 2022 that “sources of electricity production in upstate were 43% nuclear, 41% hydro, 8% wind and 6% fossil fuels. While sources downstate were 84% dual fuel (gas/oil), 11% gas, 3% hydro and 2% renewables, and solar less than 1%.”

Bartz noted that the imbalance comes from the decommissioning of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Buchanan.  

“This facility was shut down in April of 2021 resulting in a loss of almost 1,100 megawatts of energy to be absorbed from other energy generation. In an effort to make up for the loss and increased loads, there have been three major natural gas-fired generation plants brought online to keep up with demand,” he said. “There are plans to build many renewable energy generated sources throughout the state, but the exponential cost of transmission lines to inner-connect them and the lack of reliability is an expensive endeavor.”

While NYC may not have the area to put wind turbines in, unlike in upstate NY, Bartz feels that NYC is working towards jumping more into renewable energy, citing that offshore wind projects are in the works. Bartz stated that there are five offshore wind projects that are underway downstate. These projects will have a capacity of around 4,300 megawatts. 

Bartz also highlighted the issue of the location of NYC, stating, “The other issue to NYC being located at the opposite end of the state where all the clean energy generation is being produced, [is that] the transmission lines do not have the ampacity to bring our clean energy generation to NYC to make up for the decommissioning of Indian Point. In order to supplement the imbalance from upstate we will have to build new transmission lines from the new renewable sources to distribute the energy downstate to NYC (the concentrated load center).”        

The U.S. Wind Turbine Database shows that there are five wind turbine projects in the Wyoming County area, including the High Sheldon Project, which is located in the Town of Sheldon with 75 turbines; the Noble Wethersfield Project, located in the Town of Wethersfield with 84 turbines and the Wethersfield Project which has 10 turbines; the Orangeville Wind Project, in the Town of Orangeville with 58 turbines; and an unknown Wyoming County Project with one turbine. According to the USGS, the database is updated every three months and it also notes that these numbers are based on utility-scale wind turbines, and the residential-scale turbines that you may have in your backyard are excluded from the count. 

Taking a local look, Bartz explained that the local wind farm tied with the Village of Arcade’s transmission line is around 100 megawatts, with each wind turbine having the ability to generate up to 1.6 megawatts. 

“The village of Arcade load can vary from 25 megawatts in the summer to a peak of 45 megawatts in the winter.  For the wind power to reach the buss tie (outside grid) it has to be wheeled through the village of Arcade’s 115,000-volt transmission line,” Bartz explained.

On days that are particularly windy, Bartz noted that “Arcade’s electric system can virtually run on wind power” due to the fact that windy days can create a surplus on the line, which as Bartz explained is wind power generated minus the load of Arcade’s system. This then travels the outside grid until it is consumed.

We reached out to Ameri-Cans in Yorkshire for additional comments, but did not hear back prior to press time.

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