COLUMBIA — Sterling Dental Care will set itself apart from other dental care offices in Columbia. Dentist Colin Malaker has decided to install a wind turbine at his practice at 3408 Buttonwood Drive.
“My view of things is that electrical costs are just going to be going up,” Malaker said. “It’s going to put a large cost burden on everybody, including small businesses.”
Malaker said it takes a lot of electricity to run his business. He sees the wind turbine as a way to offset electrical costs, and thus prevent him from having to charge more for his services.
The turbine Malaker plans to erect will be 40 feet tall and will generate up to 42,000 kilowatts of energy per year, more than enough to power his business.
“I’ll actually be putting electricity onto the grid,” Malaker said. “I’m not there to make money. I’m there to save money.”
Wind turbines carry a large start-up cost, between $12,000 and $75,000, Malaker said. Although he declined to say how much his will cost, he estimated his energy savings, combined with the proceeds from selling extra power back to the grid, will allow him to pay off the turbine in five to seven years.
Although city staff does not object to Malaker's plan, they said in a report to the City Council that it would be a good idea to develop some regulations for wind turbines. The only current rules have to do with height of structures in different zoning districts.
Columbia Planning and Development Director Tim Teddy said all Malaker needed was a building permit.
“We had met with him a number of months ago and agreed that for the particular location and size of the turbine he was planning, it would be acceptable to issue a permit,” Teddy said.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will meet to develop recommended regulations for future wind turbines. Teddy said Columbia will examine what other cities are doing and use them as models for the regulations. He also said there will be some form of public hearing before the commission drafts standards.
Teddy said turbines will "most likely become more common."
Work on the turbine will begin July 9. It should be up and running in August.