Friday, January 20, 2006

Wind Energy Being Tested in Utah

BYU NewsNet - Wind Energy Being Tested in Utah: "Wind Energy Being Tested in Utah
By Matt Hodge - 18 Jan 2006

The state of Utah is evaluating the possibility of using wind to generate electricity because of its environmental, economical and productivity benefits. Towns like Hurricane are testing the possibility of installing wind turbines to provide electricity, measuring area wind speed and direction to determine if wind energy is practical.

Hurricane installed a wind-measuring device known as an anemometer in December of 2005, which will gather data for a whole year before the city determines whether or not wind-generated electricity is a possibility.

"If the findings show that it's feasible, then we will pursue it as funds allow," said Dave Imlay, Hurricane Power Company Superintendent. "If not, we'll have documentation."

Hurricane Power Company received funding from the Anemometer Loan Program, sponsored by the Utah Geological Survey's State Energy Program and the U.S. Department of Energy. The city of Hurricane also contributed $5,000 to pay for the installation.

The State Energy Program has purchased four anemometers, each of which are 50 meters tall.

These will be loaned to Utah cities as part of the loan program and for gathering data. However, smaller industrial or residential landowners may apply to use one of a dozen 20-meter towers, which are intended to help businesses, developers, farmers, ranchers and homeowners determine if there is enough wind energy to invest in a wind turbine.

"We hope that people who think they have a decent wind resource on their property will apply for a tower," said Nykole Littleboy, Renewable Energy Specialist at the State Energy Program. "They may find that they can generate electricity with a wind turbine for their own needs or sell to a utility."

Wind, which is used by turbines to generate megawatts (MW), is one of the world's fastest growing energy sources and is inexhaustible. Between 800 and 1000 MW of cost-effective pockets of wind exist in Utah counties, including Utah County, but that potential is not being tapped.

"Currently, Utah has less than one megawatt of commercial wind energy installed, specifically .89 megawatts," said Littleboy.

The unused potential is equivalent to the demand of approximately 300,000 homes and has the potential to bring about $1 billion in investment into Utah, according to the State Energy Program.

Wind-power proponents cite many advantages to the method. With natural gas prices so high, wind would be more cost effective partly because it is not subject to fuel costs.

In fact, wind energy is the least expensive of all renewable energy sources. The potential benefits of buying and installing anemometers is also believed to outweigh the potential setbacks.

Wind is also an attractive alternative source of energy to many because of its environmental benefits. Wind does not generate any pollution or greenhouse gasses and helps conserve water resources.

Modern wind farms are also reliable and predictable, typically available to generate energy at least 98 percent of the time.

Proponents also said wind-generated energy would reduce reliance on imported energy.

(For comments, e-mail Matt Hodge at