Council Not Blown Away by 327-Foot Windmill

A proposed wind turbine as seen from the Pittsburg-Antioch Highway.

 By Dave Roberts

City Council members were less than enthusiastic Tuesday night when presented with the possibility of construction of a windmill on the Pittsburg-Antioch Highway that would be taller than the length of a football field, visible from much of the city and likely the most prominent landmark in Antioch.

The Delta Diablo Sanitation District wants to place the wind turbine on its property at Arcy Lane in order to save $1.5 million-$4 million over the next 20 years in energy costs through renewable energy. The cost savings would be passed on to its 200,000 customers in Antioch, Pittsburg and Bay Point, according to district officials. The district has not yet signed an agreement with Foundation Windpower to construct the turbine, and is seeking comments from city officials and the public.

None of the council members praised the proposal and several were wary.

“I would want more community feedback on this,” said Councilman Wade Harper. “It’s hard to argue aesthetics when you have a smoke stack next to (the proposed windmill).”

Councilwoman Mary Rocha said, “Because it is visual and something that we are going to see, the community would want to know how important it is to us. Because it’s green-on-green and there would be a (cost) reduction somewhere along the way that we could see in the future, it might be more acceptable. But it is an object that seems very obtrusive.”

The proposed wind turbine as it would appear from Contra Loma and James Donlon boulevards.

Councilman Gary Agopian noted that it’s one thing to have windmills along a freeway such as the Altamont Pass and quite another thing to have them in an urban area.

“I’m not real fond of looking at them, but I can see the value in using wind,” he said. “But putting it in the city where we all going to be looking at it all the time, I’m very much aware. It doesn’t look that large from (western Pittsburg), but here in Antioch, I’m looking at a wind turbine right out in the middle of all of our views. I’m a little bit concerned about the location – not the technology, not the savings and not the greenness of what you’re trying to do – but the location. Looking at a windmill right there in Antioch, uhhh, I’m not real hot about it, I’ve got to be honest with you.

“Solar has a much lower profile. And even though you may need to use a little bit more real estate to do that and maybe it will cost a little bit more, you certainly are not going to have the aesthetic issues that we’re having with wind.”

Solar energy panels would take up more real estate on the district’s property, would save $400,000 less in energy costs over 20 years and would be more unreliable, according to Delta Diablo Associate Engineer Irene O’Sullivan. General Manager Gary Darling added that the district is already planning a solar project to power its office buildings.

A Foundation Windpower representative said that residents could consider the turbine to be a “nice big piece of artwork, a sculpture.” He added that it creates very little noise and only kills two birds per year on average.

Councilman Brian Kalinowski said he wants more information. “I would be interested in what the agreements look like and call for,” he said. “I don’t think, based on industrial use, I’m overly concerned. But I want to make sure we are at the industry standard.”

Mayor Jim Davis did not comment.

Delta Diablo plans to make a similar presentation to the Pittsburg City Council next month. The district board could decide in April whether to sign an agreement with the wind company and then seek the necessary environmental permits.

In other action at the council meeting:

  • Kalinowski said that Transplan, the East County transportation planning agency, plans to sue the City of Pittsburg if Pittsburg doesn’t rejoin the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Financing Authority by March 4. That authority collects funds from new development in East County to help pay for transportation improvements.
  • Brittney Gougeon, founder of the grassroots group Take Back Antioch, announced that they will be working to improve Dallas Ranch Park, including painting over graffiti, replacing vandalized benches and planting trees, flowers and shrubs.
  • The city’s first Quality of Life Forum in nearly two years will be held this Saturday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Deer Valley High School auditorium. It will include an update on the city’s budget crisis, a presentation from the Antioch Unified School District, opportunities to volunteer for civic projects and provide time for public comment.
  • Bill Gegg, who is retiring after having held more than a half-dozen administrative positions in his 23 years working for Antioch, was thanked for his service and given a standing ovation. Gegg told the council members that they need to scale back city functions to focus on a few priorities and find ways to provide services cost effectively by investing more in technology.

the attachments to this post:

Wind Turbine from Pittsburg-Antioch Highway

Wind Turbine from Contra Loma and Donlon Boulevards

One Comment to “Council Not Blown Away by 327-Foot Windmill”

  1. berlin47112 says:

    no, no and no
    over 300 ft tall…..

    supplies only 2/3 of the needed power. come on now..all the needed power, or nothing.

    the info on noise and danger to birds was barely addressed.

    how about danger to airplanes, helicopters etc?

    also the “saving” span was kind of out of line. in the presentation $ 1,5 mill over 20 years, but it could be up to $ 4 mill. big difference.

    what happens if that windmill is kaput? we then need to buy electricity for higher prices, who is paying the difference?

    zero cost to the city….something stinks

    there are no real comparisons/ experiences/ operations data available..since they have only 1 other one in place.

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