NORTH CREEK - Adirondack Park Agency officials say they could see an application from developers who are planning a commercial wind farm in the central Adirondacks sometime in the next few months.
But the companies behind the project say they still have more work to do before they seek approval from the park agency.
At the APA's Feb. 12 meeting, Regulatory Programs director Mark Sengenberger said Adirondack Wind Partners and the Barton Group are moving closer to submitting a permit application for a wind farm on the north side of Gore Mountain.
"We have had discussion with representatives of Barton Mines," he said. "We do anticipate getting their commercial wind tower project sometime this spring."
In 2005, the Barton Group proposed a 10-turbine wind park on 1700 acres in the corridor between Gore and Pete Gay Mountains near the Town of Johnsburg.
Project manager James McAndrew said Friday that although a number of important studies wrapped up in Jan., the group is not yet ready to move ahead with the application process.
"We completed some of the visual analysis field work," he said. "So, with some of those studies done, we're working on collecting the rest of the information we need for an APA application, but we're not sure when that will be done at this point."
McAndrew says his organization completed two studies that were integral aspects of the application process - a visual analysis and a bird and bat radar study.
The bird and bat radar study
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establishes whether any migratory patterns exist at the height of the wind turbines and also counts the number of birds that fly through the area.
The study is performed over two seasons - spring and fall - and afterward is compared to the normal migration patterns to see if anything stands out.
"The concern is that there could be some concentration of migratory birds or that they might for some reason be at a low altitude, but that has not proven to be the case," McAndrew said. "In fact I don't think there are studies anywhere in New York that have found that there are locations that are particularly troublesome."
The visual analysis will be used to determine how much the wind turbines stand out from certain locations. McAndrew said that researchers start with a computer model that indicates where it might be possible to "catch a glimpse" of a wind turbine. Next, a crew will fly balloons at the same height as the top of the turbine, while a second group of researchers travels along nearby roads, recording whether or not they had a view of the turbine.
McAndrew says the studies showed that the location picked by Adirondack Wind Partners poses no threat to migrating birds and could not be seen from the roadside in the surrounding area.
"As far as all of the study requirements are concerned, everything is looking good," McAndrew added. "Now it's a matter of finishing up several other studies. Again, at this point it's hard to say when we'll submit our application."
The Adirondack Wind Partners website says the 10 turbines could produce 30 megawatts of power and supply electricity to half of the 26,000 homes in Warren County.
McAndrew noted that the project would also create jobs for surrounding communities and provide a significant source of tax revenue. Adirondack environmental groups have been split over the project.
Some - like the Adirondack Council and Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks - have raised concerns about the potential impact the turbines could have on birds and other wildlife. They've also raised concerns about the visual impacts of putting large wind turbines on ridgelines.
But others - like Greenpeace and environmental author Bill McKibben - have said the alternative energy project will help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and curb global warming.