Wind Turbines Hearing Set For OC This Month

OCEAN CITY – Private usage of alternate energy sources, namely small wind turbines, could become a reality in Ocean City by next year.

Ocean City Planner Jesse Houston brought an ordinance before the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday, outlining guidelines and regulations for the permitted usage of small wind turbines as an accessory source of power in Ocean City.

The ordinance will be subjected to a public hearing on Nov. 15 and must go through two readings by the Mayor and Council before approval. This ordinance, if approved, would allow the private installation of small wind turbines by residents in all zoning districts both for rooftop or freestanding turbines.

Obviously, there are rules and regulations for the turbines, including a setback rule from property lines, and utility lines, and must be, “1.1 times the height of the turbine from property line”, according to Houston.

Houston urged the commission to move forward with this idea to a public hearing, saying, “this is an alternate energy that we want to encourage in Ocean City, but based on the regulations and the urban setting of Ocean City, it’s not going to work for some people.”

Local residents Larry Layton and Jim Motsko have been vocal in their desire to install turbines on their properties and their desire is part of a growing trend in the nation, with a 14-percent rise in turbine installation in 2007 from 2006. Nationwide, 9,092 turbines were installed domestically in 2007, and each can cost anywhere from $6,000-$22,000 including installation and depending on the size.

Greg Menoche, of Dagsboro, Del., who has received extensive media coverage on his newly installed 33-foot wind turbine, praised Ocean City for considering passing this form of alternate energy, and gave a few tips based on his experience for possible changes to the drafted ordinance.

“I saw a 65-percent drop in my electric bill in the first month that I had my turbine up and running, and I couldn’t be happier with its performance and the results,” Menoche said.

Menoche agreed to come to the public hearing in November to give a testimony of sorts to the public, and a company that installs the Skystream model wind turbines, like the one that sits on Menoche’s property, will be presenting a video presentation at the hearing as well in hopes to, as Commission member Peck Miller said, “to show the public exactly how they are going to look and what exactly they are capable of doing.”