The Horsham Land Reuse Authority on Wednsesday got an “education” into what would be involved in incorporating a renewable energy center on portions of the 892-acre Willow Grove air base.
Raymond Davis, a Warminster native who’s president of Ohio-based OGW Energy Resources, gave the board a brief overview of green energy choices that could be woven into the site’s impending redevelopment.
He told the board that a four-acre solar farm, for example, would generate 2.5 million kilowatts of energy per year – which he said could support about 200 homes. And, three wind turbines, he estimated, could produce a little more than 2 million kilowatts per year – enough to service 180 homes.
Even simpler concepts, like using LED lights for path lighting, particularly in parks and recreation areas, would mean longer-lasting illumination. LED lights last for 45,000 to 50,000 hours as compared to 1,200 hours for incandescent lights and 8,000 hours for CFL lights, he said.
“Think about how long that would last without maintenance, without electricity,” Davis said, adding that it could “easily” be 15-16 years. “You could do the entire community in this.”
On average, Davis, who’s the sibling of HLRA board member Donnamarie Davis, said it takes seven to 15 years to have a return on investment.
“Do you get a return of investment when you continue to pay the electric company?” Davis said in response to a board member’s question. “You’re not talking about usage that goes away.”
The HLRA took no action on this matter and Davis did not present any cost estimates, or specifics on moving forward. The presentation was “just an education,” HLRA Executive Director Mike McGee said.
Incorporating renewable energy at the base was a popular topic among residents during last weekend’s community design sessions involving the HLRA’s consultants, who will, in August, present three air base redevelopment alternatives.
“One of the items that we’ve heard time and again is that we should incorporate alternative energy to whatever happens at the base,” McGee said. “I think it can be a component of the total subject of redevelopment.”
Davis, who has a degree in aerospace and aviation and who is a pilot, cited two places where wind turbines might not work – near housing and adjacent to the airport, should the runway remain operational.
“Any housing development should not be right up against the turbines,” said Davis, noting that turbines produce 100 decibels of noise at the base of the tower, which is comparable to that of a subway. “If I’m flying into this airport, I wouldn’t want a turbine spinning in my field of view.”
McGee said that adding so-called green energy sources would be a “significant investment” born by “future developers of these properties.”
Horsham Township Manager Bill Walker, who serves as the HLRA’s secretary, said the township plans to update its zoning and subdivision ordinance next year. Any requirements regarding the implementation of renewable energy sources would need to be incorporated into township ordinances.
William Whiteside, who chairs the HLRA and is also a township councilman, said the council has not spent a lot of time discussing the possible inclusion of language specific to renewable energy. In the past, the council has modified its ordinances, including its stormwater management requirements, to put more of an onus on developers. He said the same could be true with alternative energy sources.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to improve some of those things,” Whiteside said. “You’ve got an open slate.”
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