Wind as power source aired
The Port Aransas City Council on Thursday, Nov. 19, took a first step toward the possibility of changing city codes to allow for erection of equipment that would capture wind energy and turn it into electrical power for homes and businesses. The council voted 6-0 to ask the city’s planning and zoning commission to produce a proposal. Councilman Keith Donley was absent.
Dave Parsons, the city’s planning and projects manager, said he has received inquiries from four citizens since spring about the possibility of setting up wind turbines. Currently, city codes forbid it. Parsons brought the matter to council to see if council members want to change the codes to allow it.
Parsons said the city must consider how high it will allow wind energy structures to be and what kinds of setbacks should be required. The city also should decide what kinds of turbines should be allowed, if any.
Councilman Rick Pratt said wind energy is a good possibility for Port Aransas, since it’s a windy place, and it would be a good, green move to make for a city that prides itself on environmental consciousness. But, Pratt said, the city must inform itself more on the subject before making a decision.
Pratt said he has been in contact Andrew Swift, an authority on wind energy. Swift would be willing to visit Port Aransas to talk about the subject, Pratt said. Swift is director of the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University. According to the university’s Web site, Swift has worked in wind energy research for more than 25 years and has more than 100 published articles and book chapters in the area of wind turbine engineering and renewable energy.
Pratt said the city also should check with Jim Sinclair, a Kingsville area researcher who has done studies on wind turbine impacts on birds.
Councilman Keith McMullin said comments he has received from community members indicate that Port Aransans seem to be either vehemently for or against wind turbines in town, with few people occupying middle ground. Mc- Mullin said he’s trying to keep an open mind on the subject.
Among those speaking at the council meeting was Byron Loftin, president of Coastal Wind & Energy Solutions Inc. of Corpus Christi. Loftin said he was on a Corpus Christi City Council subcommittee that wrote a wind energy ordinance recently passed by the council.
Loftin said certain kinds of wind turbines can produce a whine, but not all are noisy. Mayor Claude Brown asked if there is a standard size for the kind of wind energy equipment that occupies home and business properties. Loftin said the equipment comes in a variety of sizes. The higher the towers go, the more wind they catch, he added.
Also addressing the council was Tarpon Inn owner Leroy Hoskins. He said he wants to install the equipment to offset high energy bills.
“It makes a whole lot of sense for a business our size,” Hoskins said.
Also speaking at the meeting was Port Aransas resident Aaron Corman. In an interview after the meeting, Corman said he started to custom-build some wind energy equipment at his home but stopped after learning that city codes didn’t allow it.
Corman said he has read up on the wind energy issue and believes that the kind of wind energy equipment used at homes and businesses would be virtually harmless to birds. He said he “definitely” plans to erect a wind turbine on his prop- erty if codes change to allow it.
Wind energy is important “to offset the carbon footprint,” Corman said. “I don’t care about electricity, dollars wise, but I don’t want to rely on foreign oil. It’s the right thing to do.”
Wind farms, which typically use much larger wind power equipment, haven’t been proposed within the city limits of Port Aransas.