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Wind turbines quietly spinning on roof of Ocean City house

(Dec. 6, 2013) The first residential wind turbines in Ocean City are up and spinning atop a Boardwalk condo.

Workers hoisted the three-turbine system by crane onto Mario and Pam Villa Santa’s 1405 Atlantic Avenue home Tuesday, marking one of the final steps before the wind-powered blades officially join the grid.

Workers install the first residential wind turbine in Ocean City on the Boardwalk at 14th Street. The new system should produce around 61,000 kilowatts of electricity each year — enough to power the condo for the summer, Pure Energy’s Scott Lebowitz said. (Clara Vaughn | Ocean City Today)

Passersby might be surprised by what they see — or more likely, what they don’t — on the condo on the Boardwalk, though.“Everyone and their mother’s going to be looking up there,” he said.

The turbines are horizontally oriented, designed to capture wind from the ridgeline of a roof and making them more discrete than the traditional, upright versions.

Each is housed in mesh to keep the skies safe for birds and, as they spin, the machines should be quieter than someone talking, Lebowitz said.

Together, the three turbines can generate up to nine kilowatts of energy in an hour and should average a ballpark figure of 61,000 kilowatts a year once they’re on the grid, he said.

“It’ll generate enough power for the summer,” when the condo houses the Villa Santas and up to 10 of their friends, he said. “It might generate more.”

Though he wouldn’t give up the price tag attached to Ocean City’s first set of residential wind turbines, Lebowitz said the project was “by no means inexpensive.”

After tax credits, they should pay for themselves in between three and a half to five and a half years, though, he said.

Ideas for the rooftop project began passing around the Villa Santa household about four years ago while they were renovating the 1930s home, said Andy Hyatt, project manager, business associate and friend of the family.

Like most first-time projects, the Atlantic Avenue turbines did not go up without a hitch.

Originally slated for installation a year ago, problems with the manufacturer slowed progress, Lebowitz said. After a false start two weeks ago, when the turbines went up and had to come back down for Maryland Occupational Safety and Health troubleshooting, they are finally up.

On Wednesday and Thursday, workers were scheduled to continue securing the turbines to their perch on the roof with three-foot bolts. The system is awaiting electrical inspection and then a meter swap-out by Delmarva Power before it starts contributing to the household’s energy — probably around the end of the year, Lebowitz said.

“Now that it’s finally here, it’ll be good,” Hyatt said. “The ultimate goal is to be able to generate all the electricity from this house.”

With the blades spinning all winter over the vacant Boardwalk condo, that goal is not out of reach.

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