Rooftop turbines taking root

Small-scale wind turbines that generate electricity are popping up on city rooftops.

Wind turbines have been installed at the Randall Museum, on Treasure Island and on an environmentally friendly “Idea House” in the Mission, said Johanna Partin, the renewable energy program manager for The City’s Department of Environment.

Additionally, the alternative energy turbines have been proposed for the roof of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission headquarters planned near City Hall, Partin said.

Energy entrepreneur Todd Pelman installed his company’s prototype turbine on his Bernal Heights rooftop in February 2007, and in January he added two 6-foot turbines above a residential garage in the Castro. He says he’s getting ready to add turbines on the Bayview warehouse where his startup company leases space.

Flight attendant Chris Beaudoin said he has already spent $5,500 to install the two turbines above his Castro garage and plans to spend another $12,000 on them. He expects to cut his electricity bill by 10 percent to 15 percent once the “kinetic sculptures” are fully operational, he said.

San Francisco is a productive place to nurture the development of appliance-sized wind turbines, which lack the noisy spinning blades common to larger turbines that can prove deadly to birds, Pelman said.

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