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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ashland visitor center to test wind power capability

From an article by Chad Dally in The Daily Press (Ashland):

Similar projects underway at Madeline Island, Mt. Ashwabay

The Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland will soon embark on a project testing the feasibility of supplying a portion of its energy from wind power, joining other area projects seeking to take advantage of a consistent alternative energy resource.

This fall, the center will lease a 150-foot "met," or test, tower leased from the Bad River Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa and site it along the northern edge of the center's property to get a more detailed idea of wind power capability. Statewide energy audits have assessed wind power in Cornucopia and Hurley, but those assessments are likely different than averages at the Visitor Center, and on Madeline Island and Mt. Ashwabay in Bayfield, two other areas currently being analyzed for wind power.

A preliminary assessment, completed in 2007 by Focus on Energy, showed wind speeds at the center between 10.2 and 11.7 miles per hour — speeds not capable of sustaining a wind farm-scale development, but that could supplement some of the natural gas used to power the center. . . .

Mad(eline) about wind

Although nine months of data from a test wind tower on Madeline Island has revealed promising potential, organizers behind that effort will face logistical challenges if the island residents' effort toward energy independence comes to fruition.

Burke Henry, chairman of the island's ad hoc Alternative Energy Committee, said Wednesday that, based on data gathered from the 50-meter (164-foot) tower erected at Big Bay State Park, it appears there would be enough wind to supply the island with all of its energy needs — although Henry stressed there remain many unanswered questions, with funding chief among them. Along with the tower, SODAR (SOnic Detection and Ranging) equipment is being used to send signals up to 200 meters in the air to further assess wind speed.

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