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Windmill buff proposes wind turbines

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Throggs Neck may harness the power of the Nor’easter. Malcolm Brown, a City Island resident and windmill buff, wants to build wind turbines at Hart Island, Orchard Beach, SUNY Maritime and/or the Pelham Bay landfill.

In August 2008, Brown responded to a NYC Economic Development Corporation renewable energy “request for expressions of interest.” He has met with agents from SUNY Maritime, the Parks Department and Councilman James Vacca’s office, and has scheduled a meeting with the EDC.

Budget issues – the request for expressions of interest went out weeks before the economic crisis hit – could stop the city from giving Brown a green light. But according to Brown and Gaia Institute executive director Paul Mankiewicz, Throggs Neck is a windmill farm waiting to happen.

“I’m in data-gathering mode,” Brown said. “There have been no commitments but I haven’t yet been shown the door.”

Brown is a new Bronx resident; he moved to City Island two years ago. He keeps a home on the Atlantic Ocean in Hull, Massachusetts, where two Hull Wind turbines power the town. The turbines stand 50 meters tall. Brown founded Hull Wind, which has garnered international acclaim.

“I’m no Don Quixote,” Brown said. “I built a small hydroelectric plant [in the Catskill Mountains]. I built a pair of wind turbines. I know [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg cares about the bottom line. Fortunately, my plan is money in the bank.”

Based on wind speeds at LaGuardia Airport, Brown thinks Throggs Neck wind turbines would produce renewable energy, generate jobs, boost the Bronx’s “green” reputation and pay for themselves in ten years.

City Island realtor Jackie Kyle Hall has suggested Brown target Rat Island, a private spot. She and other Bronx residents are excited about the possibility of wind power. Vacca considers the proposal interesting.

At least one of Brown’s proposed sites appears unlikely. Robert Black, executive assistant to SUNY Maritime President Vice Admiral John Crane, discussed on-campus wind power with representatives from the New York Power Authority.

SUNY Maritime boasts a wind factor of 25 percent; it would need a wind factor of 55 percent to benefit from wind turbines, Black said. Brown has asked for an additional study.

“We would love to go green,” said Black. “But wind power, right now, isn’t economically feasible.”

SUNY Maritime will harness thermal power on campus soon, Black said.

Some 60 individuals and firms responded to the 2008 request for expressions of interest. Of the proposals, 40 involved wind power, Brown said. According to spokeswoman Janel Patterson, the EDC is still reviewing the proposals.

“We are aware of the industry’s interest in deploying these turbines in NYC,” Patterson said. “The city is developing guidelines for installing and testing these products in a safe and reasonable manner.”

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