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Coos Bay ponders future of wind turbines  

Credit:  By Alice Campbell, The World, theworldlink.com 18 October 2011 ~~

COOS BAY – The city is moving forward with creating an ordinance to manage wind energy conversion systems within its boundaries.

People gathered at the Coos Bay Public Library on Monday to discuss what they would and wouldn’t want to see and raised questions about the aesthetics and regulation of systems.

The process comes more than a year after the city placed a moratorium on wind development. Requests are heard on a case-by-case basis, although no interest has been indicated at this time, City Manager Rodger Craddock said.

To keep the process moving toward an ordinance, the city contracted John Morgan, of MorganCPS, to facilitate creating a draft ordinance. The ordinance should be in draft form by the first of the year, Morgan said.

Public comment, as well as how other entities are handling ordinances will be taken into consideration, he said. Several entities, including the Energy Trust of Oregon, already have laid some ground regulations. Small wind systems, as well as community, wind farm and building-integrated systems, will be considered in the ordinance.

The draft will be reviewed first by the Planning Commission and then by City Council. People will be able to comment both times.

Monday’s conversation centered mainly on small-scale wind energy conversion systems.

The three main types of systems are guy lattice, tilt-up and lattice. Guy-lattice systems require more space, as the wires’ diameter is typically 60 to 80 percent of the height of the tower.

To avoid turbulence, the bottom of the turbine typically must be 30 feet taller than any obstacle within 300 feet. Towers usually are at least 60 feet, and the setback should equal the total installation height.

No comprehensive study with up-to-date data of wind speeds and prevalence is available for the area, although old data puts it at an annual speed of 10 to 12 mph. National maps exist, but don’t address microclimates. Craddock said he doesn’t see using tax dollars to fund a study, and that the onus for gathering that information likely would fall on the person interested in using wind energy.

Concerns raised Monday included:

Are systems by the bay acceptable?

Audience members say wind is steady along the waterfront. Wind systems could serve as a tourist draw.

Who will take it down if it falls into disrepair or is no longer used?

Audience suggestions: Require a bond so the city has leverage to make companies foot the bill. Allow a time period for reinvestment in sites.

Would they obstruct scenic areas?

Concerns were raised about such areas as Mingus Park.

How can the city ensure its ordinance keeps up with fast-changing technology?

Suggestion: Have standards that refer to whatever entity keeps the most up-to-date hardware.

How is the speed of the blades controlled?

Ron Cleghorn, owner of Gold Coast Renewable Energy, explained: Dynamic braking, furling and stall-regulated governing.

In the next few weeks, a special comment section will be added to the city’s website. In the meantime, people can comment at www.coosbay.org or submit letters to Rodger Craddock, City of Coos Bay, 500 Central Ave., Coos Bay, 97420.

Source:  By Alice Campbell, The World, theworldlink.com 18 October 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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