Public hearing on wind turbines will soon be scheduled

Southold is ready for public comment on its proposal to increase the allowable energy output of wind turbines in town.

Currently, the town allows owners of agricultural land to build windmills with a maximum power output of 25 kilowatts, but, after an informal request earlier this month from Pindar Vineyards to build a 100 kilowatt turbine, the town is now drafting an amendment to the code that would increase the maximum output to 125 kilowatts.

Neighboring Riverhead town already allows turbines up to 125 kilowatts. The most powerful windmill there, at 100 kilowatts, is visible from Route 25 at the Half Hollow Nursery on the Riverhead side of Laurel.

At a Southold Town code committee meeting Thursday afternoon, Town Supervisor Scott Russell said most wind turbine manufacturers do not make a 125 kilowatt model, and that even if the town’s code allows 125 kilowatt turbines, applicants would likely not ask for a turbine that generates more than 100 kilowatts of electricity.

The height of the turbines would still be capped at the current level of 120 feet.

The Long Island Power Authority currently does not allow wind turbines to tie into the electric grid, meaning that people who own wind turbines must use all the power they generate on-site.

Town Board member Al Krupski pushed the board Thursday to change the language in the code to allow property owners to use the electricity at other properties they own. The code currently requires that the power be used on-site. But until LIPA allows the grid tie-in, other board members believed the changes to the code would do little to help property owners.

“We can revisit the code as the industry evolves,” said Mr. Russell.

The proposed changes are slated to be scheduled for public hearing at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

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