Wind in the West

  • Wind turbine drawing

    Diane Sylvain
  New wind turbines that produce electricity almost as cheaply as new coal- or natural gas-fired plants have spurred four wind power projects in the West. San Francisco-based Kenetech, the nation's largest developer of wind energy, proposes three projects featuring turbines that adjust to wind speeds while still creating energy at a uniform rate. Two of Kenetech's wind plants would be housed in the Pacific Northwest. Dana Peck, Kenetech project manager, says a third plant would be built in Wyoming - sometimes called the Persian Gulf of wind energy - where average wind speeds are 22-29 miles per hour. The wind farms may not reach full scale for another 12-16 years, but the company hopes to produce 100 megawatts in Umatilla County, Ore., 50 megawatts in Klickitat County, Wash., and 75 megawatts in Carbon County, Wyo., by late 1996. Another company, Flowind, plans to sell its new light-weight, low-maintenance turbines to a coalition of rural public utility districts for a 40-megawatt project near Kenetech's wind farm in Washington. The projects could create economic benefits for each county, but the turbines may be unsightly to some people and kill raptors. For more information, contact Clarence Grebey, manager of corporate communications, Kenetech Windpower, 550 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94111 (415/398-3825) or Sam Enfield, CARES project manager, 8011 29th Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98117 (206/781-1916). CARES stands for Conservation and Renewable Energy Systems, a consortium of eight public utility districts around the state.

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