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Great to see Thruway pursuing clean power

Normally you hear something bad when you hear the words “New York State Thruway.” It’s common to hear drivers complaining they will be late when the highway is being repaired, and cursing when they drive over potholes and worn roadway. This is a kudos to the Thruway Authority for its commitment to environmental stewardship, something that should be emulated by other parts of the state government.

The authority has used solar panels for years on temporary hazard signage, as well as the webcams used for traffic monitoring. Now it is installing wind turbines at five locations in Western New York. The installations are going to power the facilities at exits 57A through exit 60, as well as the Ripley toll barrier, and should be completed by the end of the year. I had the chance to see one as I drove the Thruway last weekend. For those who think that they ruin the view, if I didn’t know where to look, I would have missed it.

The turbines will produce up to 275 kW of electricity, with excess power being returned to the energy grid. The authority is expecting an energy savings for the Buffalo Division of at least 30 percent. This translates to an annual savings of $280,000 (this amount rises as utility rates increase). The manufacturer notes that these turbines are equipped with a polar package that is already in use in Russia, so they will be able to handle a Western New York winter.

Clean power generation does not end at Niagara Falls. Projects like this will be crucial in allowing New York to meet its carbon reduction goals.

John S. Szalasny

Williamsville