New landmark – 153-foot-high turbine – goes up in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2014 at 12:00 am

Schmitt family expects turbine will pay for itself in 7 years

Photos by Tom Rivers – United Wind installs a 10-kilowatt wind turbine today at the West County House Road home of Kurt and Cathy Schmitt. This is the first residential wind turbine in the Albion area.

ALBION – The town has a new landmark, the first residential wind turbine in the Albion community. It was erected today by United Wind.

Kurt and Cathy Schmitt have the 153-foot-high structure in their back yard on West County House Road. They have been researching wind energy for several years and committed to the project, expecting their $26,000 investment to be paid back within seven years.

“If you’re committed long-term to your house, I don’t see a downside,” Mr. Schmitt said this morning when contractors used a crane to set on the turbine.

Kurt Schmitt stands by the turbine and one of its 7-foot-long blades.

The Schmitts used a home improvement loan to pay their share of the project. United Wind also offers the option of 0 percent down and monthly financing in a lease.

The company owns the turbine and leases it to the property owner. United expects it will access about $30,000 in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for the project.

Many of the smaller 10-kilowatt turbines, such as the one at the Schmitts’, have been popular in recent years for farms. There are three in Gaines for fruit farmers: Watt Farms, Kast Farms and Jim Kirby Farms.

But more residential users are trying the projects as electric rates rise, said Stuart Adler, head of projects for United Wind.

“We anticipate more price escalations in electricity so this will become more attractive,” Adler said. “Wind is a fixed cost. It won’t go up.”

The turbine has three blades and stands atop a 140-foot-high lattice tower. With the motor and blades, the system peaks at 153 feet high.

Mr. Schmitt, a lieutenant with the state police, expects a payback through electric savings within seven years. His National Grid bills are forecast to fall to $35 a month. He will remain connected to National Grid with a net metering system, drawing on that company’s power when the wind isn’t strong enough to turn the turbine motor. His excess power will be sold to National Grid.

Schmitt thought his property up on hill would prove a good site.

“It’s always windy here,” he said.

This afternoon, shortly after the turbine was up, the 7-foot-long blades were spinning fast.

The wind turbine has been a popular topic among his neighbors and friends.

“A lot of people are interested,” he said. “They’re asking about it.”

For more information about United Wind, click here.

The turbine stands in the backyard of the Schmitt residence, just west of Route 98 in Albion.