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Monday, November 10, 2008

Bayfield County wind energy project possible says assessment

From a story by Rick Olivo in The Daily Press:

Bayfield County could reasonably consider installing a commercial scale wind turbine on one of two possible locations in the county, says a preliminary assessment from a consulting professional engineer.

The report, released to members of the Bayfield County Board Executive Committee Thursday said a large-scale wind turbine would be "reasonably productive” if built on a Mount Ashwabay site or another Bayfield hills site west of the City of Bayfield.

"The county could either develop one of those sites or try to find a site closer to Washburn, where the wind turbine could be directly connected to its largest electric use buildings in Washburn," said Robert H, Owen Jr., of Superior Safety and Environmental Services of Middleton. Owen said the Mt. Ashwabay site was large enough to accommodate about 12 600-kilowatt turbines, with a few more potentially sited on the upper reaches of the ski slope property. Owen said in the report that the county could consider selling the output from the wind turbines to Xcel Energy, or deliver most of its output to county offices and sell just the surplus energy.

While Owen said much research was needed into the amount of wind available from the Bayfield area sites, he said the amount of energy available to a single 600-kilowatt turbine could add up to 1.23 million kilowatt hours a year. Nevertheless, he was careful to emphasize that his estimates concerning available wind energy were only preliminary and could be seriously overstating or understating the amount of energy actually available. He said an absolute necessity to come up with accurate figures was a wind-speed study that could last a year or more at the sites.

Nevertheless, he said because of predictable future increases in the cost of electrical energy, the amount Bayfield County pays for electricity, currently put at five cents per kilowatt hour, could increase to 50 cents per kilowatt hour by the year 2030.

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