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July 22, 2014

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Residents push to bring wind turbines to small acreage

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These cylindrical wind energy generators may be popping up in a yard near yours - if the city reviews its wind turbine ordinance and loosens regulations. The turbines pictured cost about $10,000 each and will be sold by McLane Electric.

Sun Valley Automotive

If renewable energy is the wave of the future, then the city of Las Vegas needs to get on board by changing some of its codes, says Terry Buis, a small business owner.

He would like to install a 42-foot wind turbine at his business, Sun Valley Automotive, 4553 N. Rancho Drive. The problem: His city lot is 1 1/2 acres. According to city code, wind turbines are only allowed on residential farms two acres or larger.

Because of an outcry from residents like Buis, the city is reviewing its ordinance.

Buis said the ordinance favors the rich who can afford a large swath of land, but that's not most of middle America.

"Steve Wynn would get it, but not the little guy," said Buis, who has owned his business for 21 years. "They've shut the small guys out and the small guys need a voice, too."

The wind turbine he's looking at costs about $20,000, including the permitting, but he could save up to 60 percent of the cost with federal and local power utility rebates.

"We're trying to get on top of this green energy," he said. "I'm a firm believer in this. And now, with this wind generator, I have a chance to get off the grid and put energy back into the system."

It's also good for his business. His shop manages government fleets and it requests contractors use green solutions.

"We're trying to help the city council to modernize (its) codes in respect to wind energy," said Nancy Tabor, co-owner of McLane Electric. She sells state-of-the-art Skystream wind turbines and new 30-foot cylindrical generators called Windspires. They sell for about half the cost of a Skystream, about $10,000, but produce half the power (500 kilowatt hours a month). And, so far, NV Energy is not offering a rebate on this product.

She, and other wind advocates, would like to see the city ordinance changed to allow wind turbines on any parcel in the city as small as a half-acre, and within 20 feet from the property line. These possible amendments will be discussed at the next Planning Commission meeting on April 23.

Ward 6 City Councilman Steve Ross said there are a lot of renewable energy generators available that are within the average person's budget, and the city needs to help make it happen.

"The right thing is to make these energy conservation means available to the average homeowner, and the average homeowner doesn't live on two acres," he said in a phone interview.

He would like to see a wind turbine in use locally so that the council can see if it creates any excess noise, or if it's any more of a eyesore than a street light or cell phone tower, he said.

Ross will get his wish.

Tabor will erect a wind turbine on her northwest Clark County property in the next 60 days, pending permits.

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