Loveland residents who want to generate their own energy by installing wind turbines on their homes will have to wait.
Instead of approving or denying a proposal Tuesday to allow 10-kilowatt wind turbines in residential areas, Loveland City Council members had concerns about aesthetics and complying with state law.
Council members questioned whether aesthetic concerns would limit turbine size to the point of not being able to generate a reasonable amount of energy to make them worth homeowners’ investment.
They wondered whether disallowing them would conflict with state statute that prohibits homeowners associations from banning the use of energy generation and efficiency measures, such as solar power, wind turbines, clotheslines and awnings.
Though council opted not to vote, members asked City Attorney John Duval to research the implications of that statute, House Bill 1270, passed in 2008.
Council also directed city staff to examine commercial use of wind turbines.
The proposal stemmed from a 2009 request from a resident to install a wind turbine on his home. That request was denied because city code does not allow for it.
A 10-kilowatt turbine operating at 50 percent capacity for 40 percent of the day would generate plenty of energy, but only if conditions are optimal, said Senior Planner Brian Burson with the Current Planning Department. In Loveland, conditions are considered to be poor, he said, citing the U.S. Department of Energy Wind Power map.
Prime conditions also mean turbines are 120 feet above the ground, with a minimum height of 80 feet, but the city’s proposal called for a limit of 35 feet from the ground and 10 feet from the roofline of a home.
“You’ll be lucky if you can charge your watch,” said council member Daryle Klassen, who said he couldn’t support the measure because of aesthetic concerns and their impact on the number of appeals by unhappy neighbors. “This is a can of worms, at best.”
Council member Hugh McKean said the proposal would benefit only those considered to be hobbyists because it forces homeowners to use one of the smallest sizes possible. “It might make somebody feel good, but it isn’t going to do much,” he said.
Kent Solt said the $40,000 to $50,000 cost to install a turbine wouldn’t be worth it. “It’s a difficult thing to consider when it seems so highly impractical,” he said.
Council held a study session on the topic in April 2010, with work on the proposal going on since then.
“Maybe we’re too soon on this, because I do believe we’re liable to see some changes in technology,” said Mayor Cecil Gutierrez, such as fan shapes that are more efficient and less intrusive.
Solt asked whether the city could allow turbines, but only on a case-by-case basis or through a special permit.
When council member Joan Shaffer expressed concern that council’s lack of support might affect any businesses in Loveland that profit from developing wind energy, Burson said one company that expressed interest in the Aerospace and Clean Energy, or ACE, project specifically said it would seek to install a wind turbine.
The proposal didn’t address commercial use of turbines, but current code does not allow them, Burson said.
Klassen said the one-size-fits-all approach to allow small turbines for residential use isn’t effective for a project such as ACE.
Assistant City manager Renee Wheeler, sitting in for absent City Manager Bill Cahill, said city staff would look at commercial use.
“We’ve got to be prepared to move fast on these changes,” Gutierrez said, referring to the ACE project.
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