Wind power approved in Utah County

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    By Michael Hohmann

    After receiving approval from Spanish Fork City, Wasatch Wind will pave the way for electricity development in Utah County using wind-powered turbines.

    “As the example, Spanish Fork will be the project that everyone points to … and says, ”If Spanish Fork can do this, why can”t we?”” said Tracy Livingston, owner and manager of Wasatch Wind based in Heber City.

    The city council approved the lease agreement that will allow Wasatch Wind one year to test the wind conditions at the mouth of the Spanish Fork canyon.

    If conditions are optimal for wind-generated electricity development, Wasatch Wind will seek city approval to put up one wind turbine in the canyon by summer 2005 and a second turbine by spring 2006. These 260-foot tall turbines form a wind farm. Turbines use the wind to propel their blades, generating electricity for surrounding cities.

    “We only need the [testing] tower in place for one to two months to verify that the wind resource is sufficient for a wind farm,” said Livingston said.

    Livingston said each 1.5-megawatt turbine will generate enough electricity to individually power 800 homes, but will be used in conjunction with coal and natural gas electricity plants.

    “The cost of this energy will never go up,” Livingston said of the endless supply.

    Plus, fossil fuels not only create more pollution than wind, but they also contribute to global warming, he added.

    More than 500 wind turbines line the ridges of Hendricks, Minn., one of the largest wind farms in the nation. When wind-generated electricity production first started in the 1980s, it was expensive, said David Blees, Hendricks city administrator. Now, consumers pay almost the same amount for electricity from wind as they do for electricity from coal.

    “I think [the wind farms] have had a pretty positive impact … for everybody,” Blees said.

    However, not everything about the turbines is positive. Barb Van Eck, facility administrator for Midwest Center for Wind Energy, said most complaints in the Hendricks area come from ”flickering.”

    When the sun rises on the opposite side of a wind tower, the light ”flickers” when turbine blades pass in front of the sun and cast moving shadows on neighboring households.

    Van Eck said although other complaints include minor noise pollution and poor aesthetics, the wind turbines do not bother most citizens.

    “The farmers really appreciate them because it is an income on land while there is no labor for the farmer,” Van Eck said. “Many farmers would love to have wind farms on their property.”

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