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Wind blows cold on turbine plan

Wind might someday be a viable alternative energy resource in Loveland, but not with current technology and not with the skepticism city councilors heaped on the concept Tuesday night.

An hour-long discussion of code amendments that would permit homeowners to install wind energy systems in backyards or on rooftops led councilors to do … nothing.

“This is a feel-good measure,” councilor Daryle Klassen said after city planner Brian Burson described the proposal. “The ROI (return on investment) is worse than pathetic. … You’d be lucky if you could charge your watch.”

Loveland, according to maps produced by U.S. Department of Energy wind power researchers, is one of the worst places to install wind power generating systems, rated in the lowest of five categories for wind power potential.

And restrictions that the proposed code changes impose would make wind systems in the city even less efficient.

The code change allowing wind systems now remains on the shelf after nearly 18 months of work by city planners, the Loveland Planning Commission and a special code commission.

Some council members said deferring action on the proposal would at least allow for more information about evolving wind power technology.

Burson described “a huge wave of improvement yet to come along in the technology” that could make wind power more efficient.

“I think we’re ahead of the technology with this,” Mayor Cecil Gutierrez said. “But I don’t know that we want to throw all this effort away.”

Also at issue in the wind power discussion were the unknown effects of a state statute that prohibits local governments from banning certain alternative energy projects.

City Attorney John Duval said he would report later on the state law, with an opinion on whether a Loveland code change would be in conflict.

Burson acknowledged that current technology, and height restrictions that the city proposes, would make wind power generating systems more a matter for “hobbyists” than those interested in a viable energy alternative.

“It seems highly impractical,” councilor Kent Solt said. “It concerns me that it would be a ‘hobbyist’ sort of thing.”