With its high cliffs and windy waterfront location, could Weehawken be the perfect home for new wind turbines to generate energy?
Nearby, Bayonne is moving ahead to construct a windmill within the city limits, and throughout New Jersey, other towns are signing on to do their part to produce a variety of ways to generate energy.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also been very vocal about his support of such projects within his city.
The New York Times ran an article recently about wind turbines coming to the New York metropolitan area – including right across the river here in Hudson County.
Although Bayonne is the only Hudson County town actually preparing to construct a windmill, the area as a whole was mentioned as a good, windy place, in particular, the ferry dock in Weehawken.
Five planned turbines could produce up to 7.5 megawatts of power (or enough to power 2,000 homes) with the right windy conditions.
Although the representative acknowledged that open space in the metropolitan area is scarce, the information made its rounds on the Internet; soon, Weehawken was being mentioned on some websites as the next possible home of windmills.
In New York City, where open space is even more rare than in Hudson County, some small windmill projects have been erected on the roofs of apartment buildings, and used to power an electronic billboard in Times Square.
So could that actually happen one day in Weehawken? Not likely, say town officials.
The view on views
“The concept of wind turbines wouldn’t work in an area like Weehawken,” said Mayor Richard Turner last week. “Our whole focus is always on the view of Manhattan and the view of the river.”
With the height of the windmills causing concerns about view obstructions and the safety of putting such a large piece of industrial equipment on a highly-populated, scarce amount of land, the project would likely not be feasible at anytime in the future, said Turner.
“We’re a very dense area,” said Turner. “I’d have a lot of questions and a lot of concerns.”
Although wind turbines may not be in the eco-friendly future of Weehawken, that doesn’t mean the town isn’t doing its part to be “green.”
“Anything with new construction, we make sure, is as green and eco-friendly as possible,” said Turner.
The mayor cited the buildings on the waterfront, which require green roofs that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also provide better insulation and thus, lower heating and cooling costs.
Additionally, when the time comes to replace the town’s fleet of vehicles, Turner said they will be making sure they are as energy efficient as possible. Those plans are currently on hold due to poor economic conditions.
“The key is to be prepared for when the economy picks up,” said Turner.
Keeping an eye on plans
According to published reports, The Port Authority plans to have five wind turbines, each over 280 feet tall, erected on the west side of New York Harbor, and another in Bayonne, over the next three years.
Reportedly, the five planned turbines could produce up to 7.5 megawatts of power (or enough to power 2,000 homes) with the right wind conditions.
Although the current plans aren’t likely to affect Weehawken, Turner said the town is still taking note because of the proximity of the Port Authority to the town.
“As with everything with Port Authority, we monitor it very closely,” said Turner. “From time to time, they do things that aren’t in the best interest of the town.”
Turner said that town officials will be especially vigilant in making sure there is nothing constructed that blocks the view of the river or the views of Manhattan.
Bayonne pioneers wind power in Hudson County
In addition to The Port Authority’s plans, construction of a 262-foot-tall turbine has already begun at a plant operated by the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority to help power its sewerage plant.
According to officials, studies have shown that the site can generate enough wind to operate the turbine, and while the city may consider more in the future if suitable sites are found, The Port Authority apparently has plans for as many as six for its properties in and around Bayonne.
If that happens, Bayonne could become the largest producer of air-generated power outside of Atlantic City.
It’s not easy being green
Although the idea sounds like a good concept to some, wind power has not been universally accepted as the answer to all eco-friendly prayers.
While some worry about the visual effect on local scenery the humongous structures could have in their communities, others have concerns about public health and safety.
According to published reports, the construction of a wind turbine in Monmouth County was halted after residents rallied online at the website www.noturbine.com.
So what’s your take on wind power? Go to www.hudsonreporter.com to take the poll at the online version of this story.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.