West Jordan • The notion of self-sufficient living is gaining momentum in Utah's fourth largest city, as the City Council ponders a new alternative-energy ordinance to allow small wind- or solar-powered systems on businesses and residential properties.
"It's something that has been on our radar screen for a while. We've received inquiries at our front counter from businesses and residents that want to add those facilities to their properties," said West Jordan Development Director Tom Burdett.
The new ordinance aims to address height, location and basics that allow the power-generating systems to be incorporated into citywide developments.
Certain details, however, proved controversial, and council members voted 7-0 to table the proposal for further tweaking.
At issue were system heights, whether a turbine could be placed on one structure to power another, and why side yards would be off-limits to ground-mounted solar panels or pole-mounted wind turbines.
Resident David Tigner said he has a solar-based system that he installed on his West Jordan home and is also considering a modestly priced wind turbine that he hopes to install on his shed's roof to further power his home.
But the way the proposed ordinance reads, turbines can only power the structures on which they sit. If mounted on his two-story house, Tigner said a turbine would exceed the 30-foot height limit specified in the draft rules.
"I want the city to change that," Tigner said.
As written, pole-mounted wind turbines or ground-mounted solar panels are confined to residential backyards, which Councilman Chad Nichols considered too restrictive.
"The side yard is a better place because most people don't have windows on their side yards," Nichols said. "It seems like the logical place to have a ground system."
Nichols also suggested that the 30-foot cap for wind turbines in residential areas could hamper its benefits.
"Sixty feet used to be that magic number," Nichols said, noting that he would not support such height in residential areas. "But I do think 30 feet might be just a little bit too restrictive."
For two-story homes with pitched roofs, Nichols suggesting bumping up the height limit an extra five feet.
Earlier this summer, the city's Planning Commission gave the proposal its full support. Jennifer Jastremsky, associate planner for West Jordan, said it would allow residents to reduce their electric bills by selling power back to the utility company.
"With the economic downturn, we have seen residents wanting to be more self-sufficient," Jastremsky said, pointing to the urban-chicken trend. "In West Jordan, we've seen residents very interested in alternative energy as well, and we're trying to respond to that."
The ordinance will undergo further revisions and return for City Council approval at a later date.
City considers alternative-energy rules
Wind • Small-structure or roof-mounted wind turbines up to 8 feet tall or the maximum height allowed in each zone (whichever is less); also pole-mounted turbines up to 30 feet high (including blades) in residential backyards or 40 feet high (with blades) in commercial or manufacturing zones.
Solar • Building-mounted panels that, when tilted, rise no more than 7 feet above the roof or within the zone's maximum height limit (whichever is less). Backyard ground-mounted systems, up to 20 feet tall, within defined setbacks from property lines.