He's going greenMark Frazer was not involved in the South Washington County School District’s pursuit of a wind turbine for East Ridge High School.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
Mark Frazer was not involved in the South Washington County School District’s pursuit of a wind turbine for East Ridge High School.
But he – and other Woodbury residents and businesses – may benefit from the district’s now-defunct plan for a utility-scale turbine.
Frazer is planning to install a wind turbine and solar energy system at his south Woodbury home. Frazer, who works for Lawson Software and owns Hub’s Landing, small Hastings marina, said he wants smaller utility bills from Xcel Energy and likes the prospect of relying on renewable electricity sources.
“My goal is really not to get off the (electricity) grid,” Frazer said while walking his property as the wind whipped on a recent afternoon. “My goal is to supplement our usage.”
The school district’s interest in a 190-foot-tall wind turbine for East Ridge prompted the city of Woodbury to draft an alternative energy ordinance. The proposed ordinance would prohibit a project like the school district’s, but outlines how and where smaller wind turbines and solar and geothermal energy systems can be used in Woodbury.
Frazer’s situation seems precisely what city officials envision for private alternative energy projects in Woodbury:
n He lives on 4 acres on Dale Road in an area that is a mixture of spacious wooded residential properties and agricultural land.
n The type of wind turbine he plans to use would be about 120 feet tall – the maximum allowed under the proposed ordinance – so that it catches the wind blowing above the tree line.
n A view of the turbine and of a separate 16-foot-tall post holding 12 solar panels would be partially blocked by trees to the north, east and west and farmland to the south.
“He’s got a rural property and those were the types of locations we thought wind turbines might be appropriate within the city of Woodbury,” Melissa Douglas, the city’s senior planner, said of Frazer’s land.
Douglas said the city has been contacted by just a few residents and business owners interested in adding an alternative energy system to their property.
“I’m hopeful that once we get the ordinance adopted, we’ll see more interest,” she said.
Federal energy tax incentives will help bring down Frazer’s project cost, but it still is not cheap. He said the turbine could cost more than $30,000, the solar system another $21,000. When combined, the two systems could replace all of the electricity he gets from the utility.
“This is primarily, ‘Let’s knock down my utility cost,’” said Frazer, adding that he wants to reduce his dependence on traditional energy sources. “I think that’s the key – lowering my carbon footprint.”
Frazer said he will notify neighbors of his wind turbine plan, but disputes claims by some Woodbury residents and developers that turbines are visual blight and pose safety concerns. Those concerns were raised with the school district’s study of a wind turbine, but Frazer dismissed them as “scare tactics” and said there are worse structures to look at.
“How big are the water towers here in town?” he asked. “I’m thinking that’s pretty big and, quite frankly, they’re pretty ugly. At least a wind turbine is interesting to watch.”