Home turbine stirs up debate 

A farm-style windmill planned for the front yard of a house in a windy area near Twin Peaks could set a controversial clean-energy trend.

The three-bladed turbine would sit atop a 35-foot pole and help power a 29-foot-high, two-story corner house in the 400 block of Teresita Boulevard.

But residents of the Miraloma Park neighborhood are rallying in opposition, saying the design is inappropriate, potentially dangerous and its installation could set a negative precedent.

“People are going to have different opinions about what’s beautiful and what’s not beautiful,” said Johanna Partin, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s sustainability adviser. “We need to find ways to install renewable energy systems like wind turbines in ways that work for people and the environment.”

In an effort to promote wind energy in San Francisco, Newsom ordered city departments to install wind turbines on buildings in 2008 and his administration streamlined permitting procedures for proposed residential installations.

Functioning wind turbines operate in the Forest Hill neighborhood, San Francisco Zoo, Randall Museum and an environmental demonstration home in the Mission district.

Two types of spinning devices harvest wind energy — common industrial-size agricultural windmills and smaller rotating devices that are being designed without blades for residential areas.

Plans by the Miller family to install an advanced version of an old-fashioned windmill in their Miraloma Park neighborhood front yard were opposed by neighbors, who criticized the design as inappropriate for an urban setting.

“[Determining] that installation of this unit would be a negative precedent is apparent if you simply imagine the streets of Miarloma Park full of such devices,” Miraloma Park Improvement Club officials wrote in a letter to city officials.

Homeowner Nathan Miller said the proposal was based on environmental and energy-independence goals.

“I’ve always been interested in alternative energy, and one of my goals for my whole life has been energy independence,” Miller said. “The wind is always blowing at my house.”

Neighbors have until Aug. 15 to file an appeal with The City against the plans, which would trigger public hearings.

Civic Center serving as testing ground


Light that shines on the Civic Center Plaza this winter could be powered using wind and solar energy.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is planning to install four hybrid wind- and solar-powered streetlights as part of a larger environmentally conscious Civic Center Plaza demonstration project.

The devices would feature spinning turbines, solar panels and batteries.

“The renewable power is stored in the battery and has several days of storage capacity,” SFPUC spokesman Charles Sheehan said.

The LED lights are expected to be operating by the end of fall, according to Sheehan.

The agency is separately investigating four Twin Peaks sites where it might install wind turbines to help power city operations.
Under a long-term investigation, city officials are mulling installing wind farms at Treasure Island and in the waters off Ocean Beach, according to Johanna Partin, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s sustainability adviser.

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