Helderberg Community Energy, LLC, (HCE)

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General Information

Photo Montage of Proposed Middle Road Site in Knox, NY

Helderberg Community Energy, LLC, (HCE) was organized by a group of interested local citizens who have a strong desire to address climate change and the energy shortage with local solutions that benefit the local community. HCE was incorporated in New York State on September 17, 2008.

The purpose of HCE is to develop commercially viable, community developed and/or owned renewable energy projects to address climate change with local solutions while strengthening our rural economy in ways that are compatible with agriculture. HCE members bring a variety of talents, skills and experience to this effort.

HCE formed following a New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant study of potential resources for a community owned wind energy project in the Helderberg Hilltowns. The study began in 2006 and collected data in the town of Knox. This study serves as the foundation for the ongoing efforts of the group.

The NYSERDA study was conducted by representatives of wind resource analysis and development companies, the Albany County Legislature and Hudson Valley Community College.

Currently there is a board of Directors, including four elected officers. Interested persons may join and become involved with any activities related to the project. They may also join as non-voting members of the organization. A number of committees allow members to participate in activities of the organization.

HCE objectives include:
• Play an active role and encourage participation in addressing challenges of climate change.
• Develop contacts and exchange experiences with industry professionals.
• Keep up-to-date on regulatory and legislative changes.
• Educate elected officials and the public at large about energy issues and about wind resources and opportunities in the local community.
• Identify and communicate ways in which renewable energy projects can benefit the community.
• Participate in the local development of local solutions to the energy shortage and climate change, while benefiting the local economy.

If you want more information about Helderberg Community Energy, LLC and how you can contribute, or join, contact us at: [email protected]

For more details, visit us online at www.helderbergcommunityenergy.com

Helderberg Community Energy and the Meteorological Tower at 588 Middle Road in Knox

Sodar Maintenance at Octagon Barn, Middle Road Site in Knox, NY

The meteorological (met) tower at 588 Middle Road in Knox was put up in October of 2006 as part of a study funded by a NYSERDA grant to determine the feasibility of an industrial scale Community Wind Project in rural Albany County. The tower is owned by SED (Sustainable Energy Development). The Tower is 50 meters or 165 feet tall. It is supported by guy wires attached to anchors on the ground. Since October of 2006, the tower and other associated equipment has collected data on bird and bat activity as well as wind characteristics using radar, sodar, anemometers and other technologies. Sodar measurements allow scientists to extrapolate wind conditions from the top of the met tower (50 m.) to a height of 80 meters, where the hub of prospective wind turbines would be positioned.

Community members and students have participated in collecting radar data and making bird and bat observations. In November 2008 the met tower was lowered and a new bat detector was installed for more sensitive monitoring of bat activity. In spite of the proximity of several large caves that are known bat hibernacula (places where bats hibernate), no bats were detected in the summer of 2009.

White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is the name of a fungal infection that has accompanied the emaciation and death of most of the population of bats in the Northeast that hibernate. The affliction does not strike migrating bats that do not hibernate. Tri-colored, little brown, northern long-eared, big brown, small-footed and Indiana bats have died from WNS. It was first documented in the winter of 2006-07 in caves close to this area and in Schoharie County. Researchers are still working to understand the cause of this mysterious and devastating disease.

Lidar with Tower in Back at Middle Road Site in Knox, NY

The data on bird activity indicates that migrating birds travel well above the height of the proposed turbines. The area around the Octagon Barn is nesting territory to many species of birds whose habitat can be maintained even with a wind turbine present.

The data collected on wind characteristics indicates that there is sufficient wind resource to generate power using 1.5 MW turbines. Although there are other sites with more wind than this location, the easy accessibility of the level terrain and the open fields provide advantages that increase the viability of a Community Wind project in this area.

Community Wind development is a new approach which was first pioneered in some Midwestern states. It integrates the needs of local farms and other residents in the planning, control and ownership of the wind farm, and the financial investment comes from the local community, so therefore the financial gains primarily benefit the local community. The more common commercial wind development models primarily benefit large corporate investors, and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) are made to local municipalities. Both wind energy development models accomplish the goal of producing clean renewable energy.

Helderberg Community Energy (HCE) is a group of interested local citizens who formed an LLC to continue the work that was started by the NYSERDA study. It was necessary to form a legal entity in order to open a bank account and apply for grants to fund further studies.

The mission of Helderberg Community Energy, LLC is to develop and support locally owned renewable energy projects which address climate change and strengthen our rural economy.

HCE envisions a small wind farm in the Town of Knox utilizing 3 GE 1.5 MW turbines, in the vicinity of Beebe and Knox Cave Roads, back from the roads, and away from houses. The estimated project construction cost is approximately 11 million dollars. HCE is currently evaluating three different ownership models that may be utilized for a local entity to gain majority or sole ownership of the project. In all models the majority of project proceeds will flow to the town with the hope that the revenue will be ear-marked to help offset the growing property-tax burden. The ideal project owner would be a government entity or not-for-profit that is willing to pass the majority, or all, of net revenue to the Town of Knox.

HCE will not build or own any wind projects, as the group’s role is to continue doing feasibility studies to lay groundwork for this and other projects. These studies include assessments of the local electric line capacity, geological characteristics and market potential. HCE will have completed their work on this effort when they identify a separate entity that will be able to assume responsibility for financing, constructing, owning and operating the project.

HCE meetings are regularly held the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month at 7 pm at the Octagon Barn, located at 588 Middle Road in the town of Knox, NY (use Delanson 12053 for GPS directions).

To contact HCE, please email: [email protected] or mail to PO Box 236, Knox, NY, 12107