NORTH RIDGEVILLE – The city has proposed a 90-day halt on approval of wind turbine projects until legislation can be drafted that specifically addresses such an apparatus.
“We learned we had no legislation that specifically dealt with this type of installation,” Robert Olesen, R-4th Ward, said Tuesday. Olesen chairs City Council’s Buildings & Lands Committee, which voted to recommend the moratorium, which must now be considered by Council.
Olesen said city officials are not opposed to the turbines.
“We have two to three companies here that are building energy-saving devices, but we have no provisions in our codified ordinances regulating the construction, erection or installation of wind turbines,” Olesen said. “There was nothing in our existing legislation to prohibit it.”
The need for a temporary moratorium arose following the installation of a 35-foot wind turbine by an Emerald Street resident that has drawn reactions from neighbors and others.
“Some say it’s unique while some don’t like it,” Olesen said. “If you live behind it, you may not be apt to like it. We did get some calls from people who were not very appreciative of it.”
Homeowner Ron Engleman, who had the turbine installed, said he hopes to have it operating within a day or two.
“The city just inspected the wiring today. Now I’m waiting for the electric company to change the meter.”
Engleman said he hasn’t had anyone complain about the wind turbine “to my face. I talked to city inspectors who told me they got a couple of calls, but said that’s normal no matter what you do.”
“We want to impose reasonable regulations that don’t compromise the rights of residents,” Olesen said.
The Emerald Street turbine, which features curving 17-foot blades, and cost more than $35,000, according to Anthony Essig, owner of American Green Energy, the Westlake firm that installed it. The turbine was inspected and approved by the city building department.
“It was entirely legal under our regulations as they stand now,” Olesen said. “The man (Engleman) submitted all the necessary plans.”
The city’s chief building inspector, Guy Fursdon, could not be reached for comment.
“We are not against them,” Olesen said. “We just want to be sure they are regulated for the safety and health of the community, so if one ever fell over, it would not hit any permanent structure. We want to make sure there’s enough clearance from other buildings.”
Essig said companies such as his typically use a rule of thumb to prohibit such mishaps.
“As long as the entire system – if it topples over – lands within the property and cannot strike a building (based on its height and distance from other structures), it can be built.”
“It’s positioned in the right place that it shouldn’t affect anybody else,” Engleman said.
Prices for home-use turbines, most of which are 35 feet tall, are $28,000 to $40,000, according to Essig.
Monthly electrical savings can be as much as 90 percent.
“Savings are proportionate to the size of a house. If your bill is $400 to $500 a month, you could end up with a $40 to $50 monthly electric bill,” Essig said.
Residential wind turbines are permitted to generate the amount of energy used by a home, but cannot “over-generate,” Essig said.
“Savings depend on where you live and the type of wind you get,” Engleman said. “I would hope to see fairly healthy savings.”
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