ITHACA, N.Y. — Are you a rural landowner in Tompkins County? Do you like renewable energy? Do you think your property would be a good site for a medium-sized wind turbine? If you answered yes to those three questions, the county would like to talk with you.

At the county’s Planning, Development and Environmental Quality Committee this afternoon, legislators are set to vote to authorize a Request for Proposals for a medium-scale wind turbine scale. More specifically, the request on today’s agenda is to allow the county Planning Department to hire a consultant that would locate and put forth two or three interested land-owners with properties feasible for a wind turbine (elevated, open spaces, no deed issues, etc.).

“When we developed the energy road map, we found there are a lot of places in the county that have the wind resources to drive a small-to-medium size turbine. It could be a great source of renewable energy for a farm operation or a business in a rural area,” said Tompkins County deputy planning commissioner Katie Borgella.

From there, the selected project(s) would be submitted to NYSERDA, the state’s renewable energy agency, for potential funding. According to Borgella, the plan is to have applicants submitted by August 21st, with funding awards within a year. “The NYSERDA program was identified as a potential funding source, but there might be others out there as well. It’s called their ‘Small Wind Turbine Program’ and they do help with the funding for smaller-scale wind, and it’s been going on for a bit, there’s still money there. We thought it would be good to tee up a couple of projects and get a couple {sites} developed.”

For those feeling a bit uncertain, the county will collaborate and help fill out the application, so potential applicants won’t be going it alone. The county will examine selected properties for any site-specific considerations and restrictions, and will offer itself as a reference for financial questions with respect to the application.

Before anyone goes thinking of another contentious battle like the Black Oak wind farm in Enfield, the turbines here are substantially smaller, only enough to create 250-500 kW of power, equivalent to a few dozen homes. Black Oak’s seven turbines would create 11.9 MW of energy, about 1.7 MW each. It would take a minimum of four of the medium-sized turbines proposed to create the power of a larger Black Oak turbine.

When asked, Borgella noted the previous debate, but was not particularly concerned. “I think any change to the landscape is difficult for people to think about, but we kinda feel a single turbine might be more palatable, it goes with the aesthetic of the rural farmer, and it might be something the neighbors wouldn’t be quite as worried about. But there would be discussion, we’d work with the landowner and the community.”

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at