Sebastian hoping for $200,000 grant for wind turbines at airport

SEBASTIAN – For more than a year, Sebastian Municipal Airport Director Joe Griffin has been working on plans to bring green energy to the airport. Now, the city could be just seven months away from generating electricity from wind and getting some green – money, that is – back from Florida Power and Light.

Griffin said after the Sebastian City Council meeting Wednesday evening that he wasn’t investigating alternative energy solutions solely for the environmental impact but mainly for financial benefit.

He said that the wind turbines would generate energy that would “back-feed” into Florida Power and Light’s power grid for an energy credit on the airport’s electric bill.

The council unanimously approved Griffin’s application for a $200,000 grant that would, by his estimate, cover the cost of 20 wind turbines in multiple areas around the airport.

Griffin told the council that the wind turbines would be able to produce energy in low-wind conditions.

“Believe it or not,” he told the council, “we’re in a low wind speed area.”

The turbines would have a small footprint and would spread throughout the airport property in groups of four or five.

Griffin expects to send the city’s completed application to the state for an “Energy, Efficiency and Conservation” grant Thursday. He said after the meeting he would start calling the department to check on the grant application two weeks from now.

Griffin expects to hear a decision on the application within a month to six weeks, and if approved, would then bid out the work, which would take another six weeks.

Best case scenario, he said, the wind turbines could be installed and generating energy in about seven months.

Griffin told the council that he has already started to hear from others who are interested in the technology.

“It could work out really good for us,” he said.

Councilman Eugene Wolff asked for discussion on the grant application, pulling it from the consent portion of the agenda.

He told the council that the turbines are built in the U.S. and supports the application.

“It’s a long road and we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Wolff said.

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