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Flagstaff fast-tracking wind turbine proposal

FLAGSTAFF – City officials are fast-tracking a proposal that would allow nearly 100-foot-high wind turbines on lots as small as a half-acre in areas zoned for commercial or industrial use.

The proposal won’t contain a section on wind turbines in residential areas in Flagstaff, but city officials said that question is expected to be addressed in 12 to 18 months when the city does an extensive rewrite of its land development laws.

The rules currently don’t specifically allow turbines, nor do they forbid them.

Demand for wind turbines has been low. The city’s business incubator and a business at another location both recently put up large wind turbines. Neither has been hooked up to the power grid. They are waiting for certification from utility officials.

“The only requests to come forward are those two,” said Roger Eastman, the city’s code administrator. “There really isn’t a lot of interest.”

Andy Kruse, a founder of turbine-selling Southwest Windpower in west Flagstaff, said the council direction on wind turbines was good news for the community. “It is a great step forward for the community,” he said. Kruse estimated it would cost roughly $13,000 to buy and install one of his turbines.

Proponents said large portions of the city don’t have adequate wind resources to merit their installation.

Kruse said the nearly 100-foot height limit on wind turbines allows them to capture peak wind resources without being blocked by buildings or trees.

A wind resource map of Flagstaff generated by a Northern Arizona University professor shows only small pockets where there might be sufficient wind resources to put a wind turbine.

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