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Future of windpower hinges on Sussex County decision

An upcoming decision by the Sussex County Board of Adjustment will chart a course for the future of a new county business, and it could also set a precedent for the fate of a readily available alternative energy source. NextGen Energy Inc., an alternative energy company in Millsboro, wants to get into the wind turbine business but has run into a major stumbling block. Under current county regulations, windmills for residential or commercial use on lots of fewer than five acres are not permitted.

An upcoming decision by the Sussex County Board of Adjustment will chart a course for the future of a new county business, and it could also set a precedent for the fate of a readily available alternative energy source.

NextGen Energy Inc., an alternative energy company in Millsboro, wants to get into the wind turbine business but has run into a major stumbling block.

Under current county regulations, windmills for residential or commercial use on lots of fewer than five acres are not permitted.

The owners and founders of the company, Robert Light and Brian Lisiewski, will appear before the board of adjustment Monday, Oct. 15, seeking a special-use exception to erect windmills for two homeowners - one in Nassau Station and the other in Rehoboth Shores - in the Cape Region.

Wind

Light said the windmills, which look more like large television antennas than the traditional windmills of yesteryear, can be mounted on towers, buildings or roofs, but usually stand no higher than 40 feet.

The company's timing for offering alternative energy sources for residential and commercial use is perfect with rising electric bills and fuel costs, Light said. The company started in business last... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

An upcoming decision by the Sussex County Board of Adjustment will chart a course for the future of a new county business, and it could also set a precedent for the fate of a readily available alternative energy source.

NextGen Energy Inc., an alternative energy company in Millsboro, wants to get into the wind turbine business but has run into a major stumbling block.

Under current county regulations, windmills for residential or commercial use on lots of fewer than five acres are not permitted.

The owners and founders of the company, Robert Light and Brian Lisiewski, will appear before the board of adjustment Monday, Oct. 15, seeking a special-use exception to erect windmills for two homeowners - one in Nassau Station and the other in Rehoboth Shores - in the Cape Region.

Wind

Light said the windmills, which look more like large television antennas than the traditional windmills of yesteryear, can be mounted on towers, buildings or roofs, but usually stand no higher than 40 feet.

The company's timing for offering alternative energy sources for residential and commercial use is perfect with rising electric bills and fuel costs, Light said. The company started in business last year installing solar systems.

Light said regulations regarding windmills are antiquated because no one has approached the county to put one up. "We hate to be the guinea pigs," he said.

He said he was surprised at the outdated regulations and also that it will cost his company $400 to state its case before the board of adjustment. State and county regulations relating to windmills need to be rewritten, he said.

Shane Abbott, assistant director of Sussex County planning and zoning, said this is the first request for a windmill that he can recall. He said the county council could decide to rewrite the regulations on windmills if a request is made.

Appeals for denials of board of adjustment decisions go to Superior Court.

Perfect for wind energy

Light said the Cape Region, which is classified as Zone 2 under federal guidelines and qualifies for a state grant program and tax rebates, is perfect for wind energy. It only takes 4- to 8-mph winds to generate electricity.

Systems range from 500 watts to 10 kilowatts and even 15 kilowatts. The larger the rated power, the larger the windmill and the higher the cost to homeowners or business owners.

Also, the larger the rated power, the higher the potential savings in energy costs.

Light says he works with individuals to assess how much they want to trim their electric bill. The average customer is looking to shave off about 25 to 50 percent, he said. It's not hard to reduce an electric bill by $100 a month with even a small windmill, he said.

A typical 2-kilowatt system would cost about $15,000, which would be eligible for about $5,000 in state rebates and $2,000 in federal tax credits for a net cost of about $8,000. A 5-kilowatt system would cost $39,000 with state rebates of $12,500 and tax credits of $2,000 for a net cost of about $21,500.

Commercial rebates and tax credits are much higher than residential incentives.

Light said wind turbine systems could see a payback on investment in five to seven years, which is much better than solar systems, which see a payback in about 12 years.

Light said the new generation of windmills are safe in winds up to 100 miles per hour, are silent while generating electricity and are bird friendly.

"We like to size up a person's situation, size up their house, their habits, their family with what they desire," Light said. "We can get people up to 100 percent savings if that's what they want."

He said the first solar system they installed was so efficient that the meter was running backward feeding power back to the electric grid.

Windmills can be used anywhere in Sussex County, but outside of the designated Zone 2 area, consumers have to provide proof they are working efficiently.

Homeowners are not eligible for the state grant program until wind data is collected. People living in the Cape Region immediately qualify for the state grant program. Light said all that is required is for windmill users to put up an anemometer, record wind speed information and then apply for the state grant.

A lot riding on meeting

Depending on the outcome of Monday's hearing, Light said his company is ready to offer its own wind turbine design. "We want to install and sell retail when we are done with the design," he said.

He has made several proposals to other potential clients throughout the Cape Region including one restaurant in downtown Rehoboth Beach with the placement of three 10-kilowatt wind turbines on the roof.

Also depending on the decision, Light and his partner are ready to pour concrete and place two towers for the first residential windmills in the county, ushering in a new era in alternative energy in Sussex County.

Contact Ron MacArthur at ronm@capegazette.com


Source: http://www.capegazette.com/...

OCT 12 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/11414-future-of-windpower-hinges-on-sussex-county-decision
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