He filed an application with the town in May to construct a Bergey Excel 10 kilowatt grid-connected wind turbine at his 8.27-acre property at 355 Town Lane in Amagansett, an electric generator that would stand on a 120-foot tall tower and reach up to 131 feet whenever its blades spin around. It would be the fourth private windmill power generator in a town where windmills were once the commercial heart of local communities. There is a windmill in the center of the official town seal.
Prices of such generators vary, but one of the size and height Baldwin is proposing would typically cost around $60,000, half of which would cover the price of the tower. Its cost could be reduced if the windmill qualifies for a subsidy, which is not part of the application.
The first windmill, at the Mahoney Farm and Nursery on Long Lane, went into operation in 2010. The most recent, at the Iacono chicken farm on Long Lane, began operating this year.
While the proposal to build the first windmill was controversial, town planners said there have been no complaints about any of them since they started operating.
Baldwin's windmill would be located far enough from his property line that, should its lattice tower collapse, it could not fall on his neighbor's home.
The town planning department review noted that noise studies on the windmill Baldwin wants to erect show that, at a distance of 300 feet in a 25 mph wind, it produces a sound of 54 decibels, while the ambient noise in the same wind is 52.5 decibels.
For comparison, a normal conversation at three feet away is measured at 60 to 65 decibels, while a power mower at three feet can exceed 100 decibels.
Because the turbine would be the first for a residential property and would be a free-standing structure, the planning department has recommended that the town board set a public hearing to determine whether a special-use permit should be issued. That was discussed briefly at a May work session, and town officials said a hearing could be scheduled as soon as next month.
While celebrities and the Hamptons regularly become parts of the same sentence every summer, Baldwin has spent years giving time and money to local issues and groups, and has a high profile as an environmental activist.