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Wafting in the wind

Towns may permit electricity-producing towers

James Goodman

Democrat & Chronicle staff writer

Caption: Yuri Odeychuk, 48, of Orleans County checks the batteries that store the power generated by his wind turbine. The Hamlin Town Board put a one-year moratorium on wind turbines while it researches regulation. A large-scale turbine project also is emerging in six Wayne County towns.

The wind turbine that went up next to Yuri Odeychuk's home in the Orleans County community of Clarendon was approved by a special-use permit issued by the town last December, without controversy and without restrictions.

Odeychuk, who built the 70-foot-high wind turbine himself, considers his attempt to harness the winds a practical step toward clean energy and self-sufficiency. He is one of a small but growing number of homeowners who are putting wind turbines on their property - producing just a fraction of the state's electricity.

And, for the most part, town code enforcement and building officials say such requests can be handled by special-use permits or existing ordinances, though the town of Perinton is expected to vote soon on an ordinance to regulate wind turbines.

But the prospect of towering wind turbines - some reaching about 400 feet high - for large-scale generation of electricity has focused public attention on whether existing local regulations are sufficient for the big projects. Prompted by a developer exploring the possibility of putting 40 to 50 commercial turbines in the northwest part of Hamlin, the Town Board has declared a one-year moratorium on any wind turbines and is looking at how to regulate them.

Meanwhile, six Wayne County towns - Lyons, Sodus, Wolcott, Huron, Butler and Rose - are working to form partnerships with Empire State Wind Energy, a company founded last year with the help of local businessman Thomas Golisano. As much as $300 million might be invested by the company to generate wind power in Wayne County in what would be one of the biggest wind-turbine generating projects in the state, said Keith Pitman, president and CEO of Empire State Wind Energy, based in Oneida, Madison County.

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