Thursday, October 9, 2008

Agency to critique brewery's turbine plan

Agency to critique brewery's turbine plan
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | October 08, 2008

FAIRFIELD - Stiff coastal breezes that often pelt Fairfield could turn blades on a massive wind turbine to help power the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

But a proposed turbine so tall it would dwarf the brewery building must pass muster with the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission. The commission meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St.

Neither county staff nor Travis Air Force Base officials foresee any aviation dangers posed by the possible green energy project, which also must get approval from the city of Fairfield.

The turbine would be on a tower extending about 260 feet high. The structure would be 417 feet tall from the ground to the tip of an upturned blade.

Wind turbines about 14 miles to the east in the Montezuma Hills have caused problems with Travis' radar system. There are hundreds of the spinning turbines at the rural location. Travis officials have expressed concerns in letters to the county.

But the possible Anheuser-Busch project is another issue.

'We have reviewed the proposal to construct and operate one wind turbine in that location,' Travis Commander Col. Mark Dillon wrote in a letter to the city of Fairfield. 'In that review, we have noted no flight safety or radar interference concerns specific to Travis Air Force Base.'

Anheuser-Busch announced in July its green energy plans for the brewery. A wind turbine could generate as much as 15 percent of the plant's electricity needs, plant manager Kevin Finger said at the time.

The brewery has also built a $10 million system to recover energy from brewing wastewater. That system can replace 15 percent of the natural gas used by the plant.

Other plans call for a 1.2-megawatt solar power system with some 6,000 panels on 7 acres.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, ext. 232, or