Wind turbine planned for historic restaurant 

click to enlarge Pilot project: The Cliff House at Ocean Beach will have a wind turbine mounted atop its observation deck as soon as July for a three-year trial under a proposal. - COURTESY RENDERING
  • Courtesy Rendering
  • Pilot project: The Cliff House at Ocean Beach will have a wind turbine mounted atop its observation deck as soon as July for a three-year trial under a proposal.

A proposal to install a wind turbine at the historic Cliff House at the northwestern edge of San Francisco is being praised by some for its environmental benefits, but questioned by others for the aesthetics.

The National Park Service, which owns the Cliff House, has proposed installing an approximately 31-foot-tall wind turbine on the observation deck of the building. The turbine would allow the site to generate its own electricity by using the wind off of the Pacific Ocean. It is expected to produce enough energy to power the Cliff House Gift Shop.

If the park service approves the turbine, it would operate for a three-year test period. The turbine would be almost 9 feet taller than the restaurant, according to NPS.

Installation would start as early as July 1 and would be completed within one week. A wind turbine was proposed instead of a windmill because it is noiseless, turns slower and generates more power, the NPS said.

“I think a wind turbine is a great idea,” said Corey Yun, 18, one of he people visiting the area who was asked about the project. “I would encourage any building around the area to push to get one installed.”

But the idea of a wind turbine at the historic site may not sit well with everyone.

“My only concern is that the turbine would be distracting,” said Jinny Bender, 31. “I’ve seen those things before and they kind of stick out.”

The historic aspect of the building also was raised.

“The building already has an old, beautiful look to it,” said Ariana Tottenhoff, 15. “I’m sure the amount of energy a wind turbine would save wouldn’t be worth jeopardizing that.”

Others say the plan is good if the turbine is placed out of sight.

“As long as it’s out of the way and inconspicuous and doesn’t block the view, I don’t see how it would cause any harm,” said Michael Carr, 62.

A wind turbine engineer concurred.

I specialize in wind turbines and I think this will be very affective for San Francisco and a great piece to look at,” said 29-year-old Victor Hernandez. “The problem would be that since it’s going to be roughly about 31 feet tall, it can distract the sightseers from touring around the Cliff House. I believe it will be constructive.”

The wind turbine is the latest effort to make the Cliff House more environmentally friendly. In 2010, the Cliff House won the Carbon Cutter Award for installing green vent exhaust management and replacing its refrigerator gasket and evaporator fan motor.

The site has a long history in San Francisco, stretching back to 1863 when it was first constructed. The original structure was destroyed by a fire in 1894. The replacement building survived the 1906 earthquake, but burned down a year later. The third Cliff House opened in 1909. It draws more than 1 million visitors each year.

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Carolyn Copeland

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