South Weber man awaits approval to put wind turbine in motion

Feb 11 2013 - 7:10am

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Scott Casas stands Friday in front of his South Weber home, which has a wind turbine installed on the roof of the garage. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Scott Casas stands Friday in front of his South Weber home, which has a wind turbine installed on the roof of the garage. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)

SOUTH WEBER -- The 24-foot-tall wind turbine attached to Scott Casas' garage remains still.

The turbine blades have been tied with a bungee cord to prevent them from spinning in the wind.

"All it needs now is an inspection," said Casas, who claims South Weber city officials have been unresponsive to his request.

Since November, the month his project was complete, Casas said, he has been trying to get someone from the city to inspect and certify what has become a $4,900 project, including $800 in fees he has had to pay the city to have a wind turbine on his property.

"The fee is a little excessive," Casas added.

But South Weber City Manager Rodger Worthen defends the city's method of moving through the process, which has included making Casas fully aware the city does not yet have an ordinance governing residential turbines, but is currently working on one.

In a Jan.10 letter to Casas, the city explains its position and where they are in the process of crafting an ordinance to govern residential wind turbines, Worthen said.

Claiming the city has been unresponsive would be erroneous, he said.

The city has allowed Casas to build the turbine, while maintaining its "right of denial" for the project should it not comply with the ordinance officials craft, Worthen said.

The ordinance is expected to come before the city council in two months, Worthen said. "We want to make sure we are doing it right."

"We had no intention of creating a residential wind turbine ordinance," Worthen said, until Casas built one.

In the meantime, Casas waits for his turbine blades to spin.

"This is not a political statement," Casas said of his project, but rather a matter of getting others to look at wind power as a viable energy source.

Once his wind turbine becomes operational, he said, it will generate about 1,500 watts of power -- enough to power a hair blow-dryer, he said.

Prior to building his personal wind turbine, Casas was working with a developer on a proposal to build a six-turbine wind farm at the mouth of Weber Canyon.

But because of the delay in getting the city to craft an ordinance pertaining to commercial wind turbines, the developer moved on, Casas said, resulting in his building a more affordable alternative.

City officials did begin working on a commercial wind turbine ordinance in response to the proposal for a commercial wind farm, only to put it on the back burner after discovering the proposed project had been thwarted by landowners unwilling to cooperate on the project, Worthen said.

It wasn't until later, when Casas approached the city, that they were in need of a residential wind turbine ordinance, he said.

As a result, the city blew the dust off the commercial wind turbine ordinance it had begun to work on it in reaction to Casas' latest activity, Worthen said.

Prior to building his turbine, Casas said, he told his neighbors about his intentions, with about 95 percent of them giving him their approval.

One neighbor did express concern over the noise generated by a spinning turbine, Casas said. But his turbine, while operating, will generate a noise level of about 35 decibels, he said, comparable to the noise level of a swamp cooler.

To make the 24-foot-tall tower less obtrusive, Casas attached it to his 16-foot garage.

"I don't think it's gaudy," he said. "I don't think it is a danger to my neighbors or society."

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