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Interest in wind technology picks up

April 12, 2011
By Kate York ( , The Marietta Times

As wind and solar energy become more popular around the nation, officials in Marietta are for the first time considering legislation that would allow home and business owners to use the alternative energy within city limits.

A new provision in a city zoning ordinance is being considered by Marietta City Council's zoning and annexation committee.

Committee chairman Jon Grimm, R-3rd Ward, said there hasn't been a real demand for the change but that it's important for council to look ahead.

"There hasn't been an outcry but further down the road as technologies improve and energy prices rise, it's going to get more and more popular," he said. "I thought it was something we should get ahead of."

Grimm said there had been one resident who expressed interest in wind energy to city law director Roland Riggs III, prompting the issue to come to council. Solar panels were added into the discussion because they are being considered as part of a Marietta Municipal Court project.

There are already more than 1.6 million American homes using wind as an energy source, according to the American Wind Energy Association. By 2020, that number is expected to jump to 25 million homes.

Fact Box

Wind energy

About 1.6 million American homes use wind as an energy source.

That number is estimated to increase to 25 million homes by 2020.

Source: American Wind Energy Association

And while only 0.1 percent of energy generated in the United States currently is solar energy "The Utility Solar Assessment Study," a recent scientific report, estimated that by 2025 10 percent of all electricity in the country will come from solar energy.

The methods are popular not only for their environmental friendliness but because they can result in substantial cost savings.

The energy issues aren't currently addressed by Marietta's zoning codes at all.

Grimm said council committee members have expressed some skepticism about allowing solar panels and wind turbines in the city, due to concerns about noise and aesthetics.

If the ordinance is changed, there would likely be some parameters established regarding safety, noise and aesthetics, Grimm said.

"There's no real timetable for this," he said. "It's not a high priority of the committee because there's not anything pressing driving it but we are actively working on it."

Outside Marietta city limits, a Washington County man has already spent more than a year pursuing a wind energy plan.

Waterford resident Rodney Beebe has spent more than a year measuring wind speed on his hilltop farm and recoding the data. He hopes to have a wind generator in place there by 2012.

"The data has shown it is viable," he said. "Now it's a question of getting some grants and getting it going."



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