Wind Energy Problems In San Francisco

California is generally very energy-minded, but those who live in San Francisco and want to install wind generators are being met with resistance from their neighbors. This is despite the fact that wind energy devices are much cheaper and more practical for the overcast and breezy coast. Because windmills are seen as unattractive by feisty neighbors, solar panels are winning out as the go-to alternative energy source. Here’s an excerpt of the article below:

San Francisco may encourage wind and solar energy use equally, but the number of solar panel installations has doubled to more than 2,000 since a citywide incentive was drawn up 2 1/2 years ago. Meanwhile, the number of wind turbines remains in the single digits.

"Wind turbines are less common right now in San Francisco because they’re a little more unpredictable," said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city’s Public Utilities Commission. "But in the right location, they can be a steady and reliable source of renewable power."

Nathan Miller learned the hard way that location, aesthetics and neighborhood support are key to using wind power, and his situation highlights the difficulty of trying to harness wind energy in a densely populated city.

The 52-year-old has lived at his Miraloma Park home for seven years and wanted to install a 35-foot wind turbine with three 6-foot blades to save $35 out of his $100 monthly energy bill.

His home sits in the fog belt and gets more wind than sun, so he thought the turbine made sense.

"I thought wind power was a good idea to reduce my carbon footprint," he said. "And it was actually lower-cost for me than solar installations."

Miller estimates that after rebates, it would have cost him $10,000 to install the turbine compared with $20,000 for solar panels.

He planned to put the turbine on his front lawn, and Adrian Putra, a planner with the Planning Department, said his application met the proper design guidelines and was headed for approval.

And then neighbors stepped in.

Members of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club like Karen Wood saw it not only as an eyesore but also as "an intrusion" to the architectural qualities residents have worked to preserve over the decades.

"This would look like a giant machine plopped down in the middle of the homes," Wood said.

His plans also drew resistance from the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, and the groups blocked the turbine from being approved by department staff by filing a discretionary review. Now, it must be approved by the Planning Commission.

To move forward, Miller has to submit a written response to the discretionary review and provide a 3-D model. But all of the opposition is giving him second thoughts.

"I’m caught in this thing where I’m either going to be this scapegoat figure or prophet of the future, and I’m not sure I want to be in either position," Miller said.

While Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Urban Wind Power Task Force calls on city departments to "make every effort to advance wind power generation by incorporating wind turbines into the design of existing and new city facilities whenever and wherever possible," that may be easier said than done.



Previous post:

Next post: