Planning Commission Supports Windmills

The Albemarle Planning Commission gave the thumbs-up to windmills, Fania Gordon reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. In a unanimous vote, they directed staff to come up with an ordinance to let people put up small-scale windmills to generate power. County engineer Mark Graham explained that the conflict will come from wanting to preserve viewsheds and trees, but also wanting to generate sustainable energy. (For a windmill to be useful, it’s got to be above the treetops, whether by making it tall or chopping down some trees.) And four members of the public attended, all speaking out in favor of allowing wind energy in Albemarle. There’s no law in place yet, but there’s a consensus that they need to move towards allowing windmills. The next step is to massage a proposal from county staff into something that’s politically tenable, which will likely come in the next few months.

8 Responses to “Planning Commission Supports Windmills”

  • “(For a windmill to be useful, it’s got to be above the treetops, whether by making it tall or chopping down some trees.) ” This statement was made by a county staffer. I just watched a taped presentation on PBS discussses Schwazenegger’s energy plans for California. In it Ed Begley, Jr. had a wind turbine on his roof he was standing beside and it looked around 10 to 11 feet tall. His next door neighbor, Bill Nye (the Science Guy) said he had ordered one. It was reported that the turbine cost around $3000, which isn’t bad since stainless steel refrigerators can cost between $2,000 – $5,000.
    Unfortunately, I keep getting the impression that the county is mixing discussions of wind farms with individually owned wind turbines. Again, I hope the county opens up the process to encourage the vendors of the latest technology in this field to contribute to the discussion. It is impossible for the staff to keep up with the latest technology when it has so much else to do.

  • Cville Eye: how tall were the trees right around Begley, Jr.’s house?

  • What is a viewshed?

  • What you can see. Like a watershed, but less important.

  • Was that the kilowatt ours program?

    California is mostly desert, so probably no big trees near Ed Begley unless he was up in the mountains. I can’t remember that scene.

    I have looked into wind turbines and the rooftop models are popular in England, they don’t require as much open space. The large ones require 1 acre of land according to the manufacturers.

  • @Chris, I coulcn’t tell because he has a one story house and the shot was really tight.

  • I’m glad to know the county’s open to alternative energy, but according to a Department of Energy wind resources map, there really isn’t enough wind here to be cost-effective, which is surprising… sure seems windy lately.

    Anybody know if this is correct?

  • It’s not quite right, though that’s not the DoE’s fault—their map just isn’t detailed enough. As I wrote about this a few weeks ago:

    JMU conducted a study of wind energy on Buck’s Elbow a few years ago and found that it’s a great source of wind energy. The Southwest Mountains and the whole eastern slope of the Blue Ridge are excellent locations for windmills. My latest power bill was breathtaking, a result of Dominion’s latest price hike. I’ve looking hard at installing a Skystream, since I live in up in the Southwest Mountains, though I guess that’s not going to happen. If you’re interested in relying less on coal and foreign oil, and want to consider small wind, check out JMU’s Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative.

    But it’s true that much of Albemarle isn’t a great place for cost-effective wind power.

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