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A new wind blows in Layton; Alternative energy putting down roots near Weber Canyon

Taking easterly winds in a new direction could provide South Weber and Layton residents near the mouth of Weber Canyon with an alternative energy source. That is, if zoning issues can be remedied, costs met, regulations drafted and not-in-my-backyard battles kept to a minimum. Layton Mayor Steve Curtis is interested in his city pursuing wind turbines as an alternative energy source. ...But before officials in any community turn their face to the wind in search of an alternative energy source, an expert associated with the work done on the small wind farm in Spanish Fork has some advice.

Taking easterly winds in a new direction could provide South Weber and Layton residents near the mouth of Weber Canyon with an alternative energy source.

That is, if zoning issues can be remedied, costs met, regulations drafted and not-in-my-backyard battles kept to a minimum.

Layton Mayor Steve Curtis is interested in his city pursuing wind turbines as an alternative energy source.

Meanwhile, some South Weber residents have already contacted city officials seeking approval to erect small backyard wind turbines on their properties.

"We have had some residents call and asked that they want to put one of these things in," said South Weber City Manager Matthew Dixon.

The holdup? The city has nothing on its books to regulate backyard or commercial wind turbines.

City leaders now are in the preliminary stages of looking at drafting regulations.

To help with the effort, the city has contacted Wasatch Wind Inc., of Heber City, which did work in association with a small wind farm outside Spanish Fork Canyon.

If the city can find a way to harness the winds coming out of Weber Canyon, Dixon said, it may be able to provide some homes with an alternative energy source.

The wind in the past has been a "real... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Taking easterly winds in a new direction could provide South Weber and Layton residents near the mouth of Weber Canyon with an alternative energy source.

That is, if zoning issues can be remedied, costs met, regulations drafted and not-in-my-backyard battles kept to a minimum.

Layton Mayor Steve Curtis is interested in his city pursuing wind turbines as an alternative energy source.

Meanwhile, some South Weber residents have already contacted city officials seeking approval to erect small backyard wind turbines on their properties.

"We have had some residents call and asked that they want to put one of these things in," said South Weber City Manager Matthew Dixon.

The holdup? The city has nothing on its books to regulate backyard or commercial wind turbines.

City leaders now are in the preliminary stages of looking at drafting regulations.

To help with the effort, the city has contacted Wasatch Wind Inc., of Heber City, which did work in association with a small wind farm outside Spanish Fork Canyon.

If the city can find a way to harness the winds coming out of Weber Canyon, Dixon said, it may be able to provide some homes with an alternative energy source.

The wind in the past has been a "real negative attribute" for the city, he said. "It would be great to turn that around."

Some Layton residents -- about 200 homes in the northeast corner of the city -- may also be able to capitalize on the Weber Canyon winds as an alternative energy source, Curtis said.

The mayor, however, said he would rather the city look at wind power as an energy source collectively rather than having individual landowners erect their own backyard wind turbines.

"An organized effort (by the city) would have a more aesthetic appeal," he said.

The purchase and installation of a backyard wind turbine costs $9,000 to $12,000.

Some turbines can generate up to 1.8 kilowatts of energy per hour, said Chris Smith, an intern with Organic Consumers Association, of Finland, Minn.

He said his home is "totally off the grid." He uses a backyard wind turbine and two solar panels to power his home.

"The key is to have the energy-efficient appliances."

A wind turbine can reduce a home energy bill by $500 to $800 annually, paying for itself over five to 12 years, Smith said.

Easterly winds also blow out of Farmington Canyon, but are not strong or consistent enough to power an alternative energy source, officials say.

But before officials in any community turn their face to the wind in search of an alternative energy source, an expert associated with the work done on the small wind farm in Spanish Fork has some advice.

Christine Mikell, Wasatch Wind Inc. senior project development manager, said officials have looked at placing a wind farm outside the mouth of Weber Canyon, but the difficulty has been the available space for a project, as well as inconsistent wind velocities.

Wasatch Wind helps develop commercial wind farms. The Spanish Fork wind farm project, which became operational July 30, powers 6 percent of Utah County.

"For whatever reason, Spanish Fork (canyon winds) seem to be more consistent," Mikell said.

The winds coming out of Weber Canyon are more turbulent, placing more wear on turbines.

Wind speeds need to average about 17 miles per hour to allow a wind farm to be successful, she said. Wind consistency is necessary if the turbines are going to be able to provide energy during peak-use times.

The availability of land near the mouth of Weber Canyon may also be an issue because the canyon mouth is so close to residences, Mikell said.

"They don't want to look at it. NIMBY," she said of the commercial spinning turbines extending 350 feet into the air.

"You need to have some type of buffer."

NIMBY concerns and problems associated with land use will also have an effect on those who want to erect smaller turbines on personal property.

A backyard turbine would need to extend 60 feet in the air to catch the wind not being blocked by the home, Mikell said. From a zoning standpoint, that may result in neighbors complaining about noise and the danger of a spinning blade.

"When all is said and done, you would need 5 acres," Mikell said of the setback she suspects cities would require.

Rocky Mountain Power, through its Blue Sky program, provides upfront funding up to 100 percent on projects supporting renewable energy, including wind, on the condition the community or individual is a customer of its service, said spokesman Dave Eskelsen.

"There is certainly more interest," he said of the number of communities and individuals searching for alternative energy sources.

Most of the Blue Sky grants have been for demonstration-level solar projects, like solar panels on the Salt Palace Convention Center expansion and the Clark Planetarium.

But with the advancement of wind-energy technology made in the 1990s, Rocky Mountain Power is using wind power in the Wyoming high plains and the Columbia River Gorge near the Washington-Oregon border.

"A lot of it has to do with terrain. A lot of it has to with weather patterns," Eskelsen said.

Park City is working on a small wind farm project using Blue Sky grant money, he said, and the Girl Scout Council of Wyoming in Casper also erected a small wind turbine at its camp this summer that generates up to 1.8 kilowatts of energy.

Commercial wind turbines can generate up to 2 megawatts, or 2,000 kilowatts, of power every minute.

The disadvantage to wind power is the upfront cost of putting turbines in place, Eskelsen said, but an advantage is that, once those costs are met, there is zero fuel cost.

Solar and wind energy will not replace the volume needed to provide the power society demands, he said, but wind and solar energy will be part of the "overall resource mix."


Source: http://www.standard.net/liv...

OCT 13 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17467-a-new-wind-blows-in-layton-alternative-energy-putting-down-roots-near-weber-canyon
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