Future Is Blowing at San Francisco's Cliff House

It's an idea that's been blowing around for years

In an attempt to harvest the famous winds of San Francisco's western edge, an alternative energy company is installing a wind turbine at the site of the Cliff House, home to such forward-thinking contraptions as the Camera Obscura.

"The National Park Service actually has a mandate across the nation to lower its carbon footprint," said Alexandra Picavet, spokeswoman for the NPS, which owns the land.

The idea has been blowing around for several years, ever since the owners of the Cliff House approached their landlord, the park service, with an idea to install a turbine.

The 3-kilowatt system is intended to power the Cliff House's gift shop and part of the restaurant.

It's part of a three-year pilot project aimed at studying the safety and effectiveness of the technology.

"We believe we can do this down the coast," said Hamid Saadat, whose company Direct Nu Energy is installing the turbine. "We hope this is the start of other ones to come." 

The turbine uses vertical blades, as opposed to those propeller-like turbines which dot Altamont Pass. Engineers said the design will protect birds, bats and other wildlife.

"It'll be moving slowly," said engineer Randy Abraham. "The birds will be easily able to see them and stay away from them."

It took the National Park Service two years to vet all the neighbors' concerns about noise, and the obstruction of views at the Cliff House which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Engineers said the turbine is silent and installed low to blend-in with the Cliff House structure. Company officials say the turbine can also be enclosed in a protective cage if any birds are harmed.

National Park Service biologists said the site is not a known bird flyover spot. The project is set to be fully wired-up by the first week of March, providing the site with a clean source of wind-generated energy.

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