Windmill may be coming soon to Scriba

Alcan Aluminum Corp. will apply for a building permit sometime next week to construct the largest windmill in the United States in the town of Scriba, a Scriba official said Thursday.

General Electric will build the 3.6-megawatt turbine on Alcan-owned property in Scriba, said James Wellington, Scriba planning board chairman. It will be 500 feet tall in a wooded area 1,800 feet from Lake Ontario’s shoreline.

The Scriba Planning Board approved the site plan last Wednesday, but Alcan still needs the building permit to proceed, Wellington said.

“It’s great for the environment,” Wellington said. “It uses no fuel. The wind generates the electricity.”

GE mulled over building windmills in several cities before deciding on Oswego County because of Oswego’s ability to produce wind energy, said Mary McCann, a GE spokeswoman. Oswego has high wind and electricity transmission lines, McCann said.

The windmill is being built despite concerns that migrating birds, many of which fly on or near the lake, could be injured or even killed by the windmill, Wellington said.

The planning board eased concerns about the windmill, promising to conduct a study on the effects of the windmill on bird populations, with results provided annually. The study will be done over a three-year period, Wellington said.

“Anytime you put something that big up there, it’s going to be a problem for anything flying around that area,” Wellington said. “We’re concerned about the birds. ”

GE had originally planned to build the windmill in conjunction with NRG Energy on NRG’s property in the city of Oswego. But when NRG filed for bankruptcy in May, NRG was forced to pull out of the deal and GE turned to Alcan, said Cheryl Ascenzi, an Alcan spokeswoman.

“We were the next alternate building site,” Ascenzi said.

The windmill, the first of its model to be built in the United States, was originally designed to be offshore, McCann said. But GE decided to build its on land for testing and research purposes.

Should the windmill be a success, GE plans to build more than 80 windmills in that area, McCann said.

“There are several companies looking to build in that area,” McCann said. “We hope we’re the company that is selected to do it.”

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