Town considers wind energy rules

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
By Heather Simione

OLDMANS TWP. After months of discussion and research among the township committee and planning board, an ordinance the first of it's kind in Oldmans Township has been drawn up to regulate the development of small wind energy systems used to produce electricity.

Township committee recently introduced its Wind Energy Conservation Systems ordinance at its recent meeting.

The ordinance would allow "wind energy conservation systems" in all areas of the township, from residential to farming and industrial districts.

New Jerseyans are striving for new ideas to put money back into their pockets while reducing their eco-footprint on the Earth, according to Oldmans Township Mayor Harry Moore.

"Lowering energy bills is a concern to the township as well as to the property owners, said Moore. "Whether we use the sun or wind to extract our energy, we just have to capture it. Riding through hillsides of California and seeing windmill over and over again shows us that this is the future."

In 2007, the average household electric bill rose more than 5.6 percent, according to Sandra May, spokeswoman for Atlantic City Electric, which provides Salem County with electrical power.

John Travaglini, of Penns Grove-Auburn Road, paved the way for introduction of the ordinance after seeking permission earlier this year to install a wind turbine system on his 40-acre combination farm and residential property so he could produce his own electricity.

Travaglini hopes installation of his wind turbine will be completed by mid-September later of this year, he said.

"I calculated a savings of $2,000 annually," said Travaglini. "I should meet a savings with average usage in the summer time and peak usage in the winter time."

With only one wind turbine, Travaglini says he will still need outside electric to meet his needs during the summer.

Travaglini had told the township he wanted to construct a 10 kilowatt, 120-foot self-supporting lattice structure for his wind turbine.

Typical cost for a small wind turbine system is between $28,000 and $35,000, according to Web sites related to the topic. The cost of Travaglini's system is not clear.

Also, Travaglini responded to questions raised from surrounding township residents about noise from the wind turbine blades, as well as negative impact on migratory birds.

Travaglini said after researching air patterns for migratory birds and bats within the area, he does not foresee any problems.

The ordinance requires "the supporting tower shall also be enclosed with a six-foot fence unless the base of the tower is not climbable for a distance of 12 feet; the maximum height allowable shall be 120 feet; the tower and generating unit shall be kept in good repair and sound condition as not to threaten the health and safety of any individual or animal".

Owen Hyland, of Alternative Energy Associates, who are considered custom designers of renewable energy systems, from Augusta in Sussex County, presented an environmental perspective to the township committee proclaiming that the fair amount of agricultural space within the township makes it a prime location to begin installation for Oldman's first wind turbine.

"More and more people are getting taxed with the high cost of energy and fuel," said Hyland. "Wind and solar is an easy alternative to saving money."

Brian Blair, president of Energy Freedom Pioneers, said when introducing unconventional concepts into people's lives skepticism is almost always unavoidable; however, he stands by the proverb "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

"I drive by the windprops in Atlantic City, and think it's beautiful, and other's think it's an odd, evasive structure," he said. "I see the windprop and think that's less foreign oil I'm buying."

Moore said the introduction of energy-saving items like the electricity-producing wind turbines will benefit all.

"I think if everyone did all they can to save energy, possibly or hopefully energy costs would decrease," said Moore.

"The township committee is even looking into geothermal heat for the municipal building."





2008 Today's Sunbeam. Used with permission.