Wind Turbines an Alternative to Fossil Fuels May 5, 2004

Wind Turbines an Alternative to

Fossil Fuels



Town of Greenburgh Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

May 5, 2004

Richard J. Garfunkel


Today we face an ongoing problem regarding the usage of fossil fuels. Obviously, from a market perspective the price of oil seems to be on an upward path, not destined to be ameliorated or tempered by positive market factors, short of a recession, for the foreseeable future. Also the dependency of overseas suppliers adds to our trade deficit and exacerbates our ongoing political problems. Places like Nigeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the like are in the near term and long term, potentially unstable. Today Iraq and Venezuela are prime examples of nations with huge reserves that are currently under jeopardy for totally different reasons.


Therefore from a geopolitical perspective the search for alternate and renewable resources should be paramount on the minds of both the government and the public it serves. Wind power is an increasingly significant renewable energy resource, producing no environmental CO2 emissions. The wind turbine collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity. There are three bladed types that are operated “upwind” and two-bladed types that operate “downwind.” Wind turbines are manufactured by many companies around the world and this country, and come in all sizes with different though similar configurations. They are engineered to fit into the power grid, and they can be easily adapted to our current electrical system. From an environmental perspective their noise levels are equivalent to quiet bedroom at night. In a sense they would be 30% quieter than listening to a car travel by at 40 mph from a distance of 100 meters. Wind turbines can be extremely cost affective depending on the height of the tower and the constant speed of the wind. As per example a small wind turbine typically lowers one’s electricity bill between 50 and 90%. A typical wind turbine starts produce power at 6 mph. Of course, depending on the size and its efficiency, the payment may take a varied amount of time. Generally it takes 8-9 mph average speeds to make one’s site quite viable.


Presently the Town of Greenburgh, which includes villages and unincorporated areas, also has a long stretch of land that parallels the Hudson River. This may be the appropriate time to look carefully at some of the parkland, neighborhoods with wooded buffer zones and the Hudson River frontage as places where wind turbines could be placed. 


As per example; in Searsburg, Vermont, 11 wind turbines, which cost $11 million to build, with $4 million from the DOE, produces 6 megawatts- that provides the energy for 2000 homes. Of course these are large “wind turbines” and they serve different, but similar ends.


My suggestion is that we form a small working committee to establish a “task force” on alternative sources of energy. This “task force” should not be limited to wind turbines, but explore solar energy, hybrid cars, and conservation.

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