Commission discusses proposed wind turbine ordinance

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed Wednesday a proposed ordinance regulating the installation of wind turbines in the city.

Commission Chairman Tom Martin said the need for an ordinance addressing wind turbines surfaced because the city Building Safety Department has received numerous inquiries from residents who want to install wind towers on their properties.

The ordinance regulates the allowable height of wind towers and appropriate square acreage of properties where they could be installed.

“We just didn’t want them in the center of town,” said Department Director Pete Wilt.

Wilt said inquiries about wind turbines started last year and the city began gathering information for the ordinance in February.

Martin said he expects the Planning and Zoning commission to present a draft for approval to the City Commission in two to three months.

During the meeting Planning and Zoning Director Louis Gordon introduced to commissioners wind turbine dealer Jerry Griffin of Logan who answered questions regarding installation of wind turbines in residential properties.

Griffin said the city needs to modify the proposal’s height requirement. The present draft sets the maximum height for wind turbines at 35 feet. He said a typical wind turbine would need at least 70 feet to perform well.

“For a turbine to go up in town, this 35-foot cap is going to make the turbine mostly worthless,” he said.

According to Griffin a typical wind turbine for residential use generates about 1.5 kilowatts of electricity.

He also suggested removing a requirement for mechanical brakes in the draft because he said wind turbines made do not have mechanical brakes but a magnetic system that slows it down. He said mechanical brakes are potential fire hazards.

The Portales City Council approved an ordinance regulating wind turbines in June.

The Clovis city officials are conducting feasibility studies regarding a proposal to build a wind farm on city property near the city landfill.

In other business, commissioners elected a new chairman, vice chairwoman and secretary.

Commissioners elected Adam Warren as commission chairman, Connie Connolly as vice chairwoman and Skip Overdier as secretary.

The three commissioners will take over their positions at the next commission meeting.