This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.Guest Blog | January 8, 2014
Tybee Island has been given, for free, a small-scale wind turbine (an Endurance 3120 turbine) with the hope it will soon be installed on the city’s water treatment plant property. To discuss the turbine installation, there will be a town hall meeting regarding this wind turbine at Tybee Island City Hall on January 13th at 6:30PM (it’s free and open to the public).
The turbine represents one of the top-of-the-line small-scale wind turbines commercially available today. The Small Wind Certification Council recently certified the Endurance 3120 turbine. This 50 kilowatt turbine could generate more than 170,000-kilowatt hours of electricity annually. To put that in perspective, that amount of electricity could power about 17 average homes annually according to Environmental Protection Agency figures. Because the turbine has been provided for free, and the city only has to cover installation costs, the turbine is extremely likely to pay for itself and cut city government’s power bill.
The turbine could also supply cost effective electricity for high electrical demand during the summertime. A recent report published by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy shows that Georgia’s offshore and coastal wind resources are positively correlated with peak electricity demand hours during June, July, and August. This is due to the sea breeze effect, a natural phenomenon that occurs in coastal areas when cool ocean air rushes inland to replace the warmer air that is rising—prominent during hot summer afternoons. While utilities and their ratepayers often pay a premium for peak power during high demand hours, the sea breeze effect could allow reliable offshore and nearshore wind power to offset conventional, expensive peak power generation.
With eco-tourism on the rise, the Tybee Turbine could also become a thriving tourist attraction. Case studies from around the Southeastern region have proven that small-scale wind turbines can offer economic and educational opportunities to the surrounding community. The Hilton Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida recently installed six small wind turbines, and the local tourism bureau praised the hotel’s effort. In North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, wind turbines have been installed right beside the biggest downtown resorts and the City, the Chamber of Commerce, and the regional economic development council have partnered with other groups to make the city a “wind-powered economic zone” to attract tourists who want to stay in a renewable energy demonstration city. In North Carolina, the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills was the first wind-powered brewery in the United States, providing a unique attraction for the town. The Tybee Island Turbine would be the first coastal wind turbine in Georgia and thus has great potential to become a popular tourist attraction.
In 2012, the Tybee Island City Council passed the “Tybee Island Wind Power Resolution” in support of wind energy development. The installation of this turbine would be a small, but important first step towards implementing this resolution and would place Tybee Island at the front line of clean energy innovation in the state.
The town hall meeting will be Monday, January 13th from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Tybee Island City Hall (403 Butler Ave, Tybee Island, GA 31328). Please come out and voice your support!