Tybee residents came out in dozens Monday night to a public meeting to discuss a proposed wind turbine.
Tybee could get the turbine for free donated by the manufacturer, and would pay about $134,000 to install it, but is it something that residents want?
The city’s idea is to use the wind turbine to power the treatment plant, saving the city an estimated $400,000 in electricity bills over 20 years.
One problem: the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says scores of rare birds pass over the proposed spot every day, moving from their beach nests to their feeding grounds in the marsh.
“Looking at Tybee, this would be the worst place to put it on Tybee,” said Timothy Keyes from the Dept. of Natural Resources.
Turbine proponents say the technology is a minimal threat to birds, that larger ones on average kill less than two birds a year.
But Keyes says that’s two too many for one type of endangered piping plover. That bird winters on Tybee and there are only about 120 left in the world.
Still, most people who came to the meeting like the idea of more renewable energy on Tybee.
“I think it’s a first, and I think it’s very positive,” said Laura Schulz, a resident that lives near the proposed site. “I don’t think it’s ugly.”
Some residents questioned the feasibility of the plan.
“I mean everybody’s into green energy, and everybody would like to heat and cool for nothing, but it’s just not reality,” said Tybee resident Tom Bohman.
The turbine has been in storage for two years after the Wisconsin town it was built for decided they didn’t want it.
That fact has been on people’s minds, too.
“Why the community that decided not to move forward with this made that decision,” said Tybee Mayor Jason Beulterman.
That’s a question Tybee’s City Council is hoping to answer before voting on whether to accept the turbine.
Councilman Paul Wolfe, who brought the proposal, was planning to get it on the Jan. 23 City Council agenda, but after so many questions were raised tonight, he plans to push the vote until February.
The proposed wind turbine would be just a little bit taller than Tybee’s existing water tower, approximately as tall as the lighthouse.
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