Coos Bay officials taking closer look at wind turbines in town

Coos Bay officials taking closer look at wind turbines in town
Coos Bay bridge. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum, courtesy Oregon State University)

COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) - The city of Coos Bay will consider allowing wind turbines in town.  

The World of Coos Bay reports that turbines have been under a moratorium and the city hasn't made much progress on the issue in the past two years.  

But the City Council plans to take public comment in February or March, and it has an online survey on its website.  

The draft ordinance would allow turbines no taller than 70 feet - much shorter than industrial wind turbines that are more than 250 feet.  

'What we would need is an ordinance to limit any negative impacts to neighbors," said Laura Barron, the city's planning administrator.  

For large turbines, residents would have to show that noise would be minimal, viewsheds would not be disturbed and the device would meet tough safety standards. Restrictions would be reduced for smaller devices.  

Some new technology doesn't require huge towers. Micro wind turbines being tested and used around the country can be mounted on rooftops and the edges of buildings.  

"The thing people are most concerned about is the visual impact," said Ted Brekken, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Oregon State University. 'If your neighbor puts up a 70-foot wind turbine, that is as high as a seven story building."  

Wind is slowed dramatically by hills, trees and buildings, all of which abound in Coos Bay, and wind is more powerful at higher elevations.  

"The short answer is, (wind power) doesn't work well in an urban setting," Brekken said. 'If the city allowed it, you could build it. But it will produce a tiny fraction of the amount of power its industrial brothers will produce."  

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Information from: The World, http://www.theworldlink.com