"Well, we're not opposed to wind turbines," said Michael Black, Cottonwood Heights' planning director, noting that the City Council was concerned about aesthetics. "But as far as putting it as a priority for the city for staff and resources, we didn't think it was a priority."
Black said he sees turbines as another "hot-button suburban issue that comes and goes," like the recent influx of backyard chicken coops. He said the city would create an ordinance if they have an application.
It's a similar story in Draper, where it's deemed an "ongoing discussion," but turbines currently are not allowed.
"This is no longer Birkenstock-wearing hippies who want to do this. People want to do this for energy security over the long-term," said Sara Baldwin, senior policy and regulatory associate with Utah Clean Energy.
"One of the key messages that we like to impart with cities and towns and counties is looking at wind structures not as this foreign structure coming out of nowhere, this alien life form, but looking at it as structures we live with everyday — light poles, flag poles, telephone wires, cell phone towers," Baldwin said.
Utah's municipalities have a long way to go to shift that paradigm, she added. Currently, through the state energy program, a Utah Wind Working Group is creating a model wind turbine ordinance for municipalities to use as a template. It should be finalized by November.
Although Brooks originally researched turbines for emergency preparedness, the California native remembers the rolling blackouts of the electricity crisis in the state nearly a decade ago.
"I figure the more people we can get to reduce the demand on the grid, the less strain on the load," he said. "We're kind of on the cutting edge right now. People are a little reluctant because they're not sure what to expect. But as more cities draft ordinances, I think it's becoming more commonplace."
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