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Ariz. hopeful it can power up with wind

Arizona may not be the windiest state in the nation, but several projects are in the works to add wind-generated power to the state's electricity mix.

From the Hopi Reservation in the north to the Willcox Playa in the south, developers and entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to harness the wind.

Thus far, only one project is under way: the Steel Farm Project, due to be up and running north of Kingman within a year. The plant, with 15 wind turbines that will stand 350 feet high with 90-foot blades, will put out 15 megawatts of power. All of it has been purchased by Arizona Public Service.
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Several other projects are being studied, many of them along Interstate 40 east of Flagstaff and on the Navajo and Hopi reservations.

Every one of them hopes to take advantage of nature.

Concept is simple

The windmill is a simple machine, and the technology involved in converting the rotation of the blades to electricity is relatively simple. It grows more complex through machinery designed to capture the maximum amount of wind.

The windmills can be turned into the wind, and the angle of the blades also can be adjusted.

All the technical work is done behind the blade in a container called a nacelle, which can be the size of a tractor trailer.

Many Arizona residents are familiar with the wind-power generators west of Palm Springs, Calif., but... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
From the Hopi Reservation in the north to the Willcox Playa in the south, developers and entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to harness the wind.
 
Thus far, only one project is under way: the Steel Farm Project, due to be up and running north of Kingman within a year. The plant, with 15 wind turbines that will stand 350 feet high with 90-foot blades, will put out 15 megawatts of power. All of it has been purchased by Arizona Public Service.
advertisement 
 

Several other projects are being studied, many of them along Interstate 40 east of Flagstaff and on the Navajo and Hopi reservations.
 
Every one of them hopes to take advantage of nature.
 
Concept is simple
 
The windmill is a simple machine, and the technology involved in converting the rotation of the blades to electricity is relatively simple. It grows more complex through machinery designed to capture the maximum amount of wind.
 
The windmills can be turned into the wind, and the angle of the blades also can be adjusted.
 
All the technical work is done behind the blade in a container called a nacelle, which can be the size of a tractor trailer.
 
Many Arizona residents are familiar with the wind-power generators west of Palm Springs, Calif., but experts say those are outdated machines.
 
The newer machines, which are much taller and much larger, can convert enough wind to drive the cost per kilowatt-hour down by 80 percent, according to one calculation, from earlier days of wind generation.
 
The problem in Arizona is that the wind is intermittent. So while a large array of tall windmills can generate considerable power at optimum wind speeds, anywhere from 12 to 25 mph, wind cannot replace other sources of energy.
 
Christine Real de Azua of the American Wind Energy Association said elevation is a key to successful generation here. That is why the plants under consideration are at 3,000 feet or higher.
 
She points out that nationally, wind power has grown from 2,500 megawatts to almost 10,000 in the space of five years, both because more wind farms are being constructed and because turbines are becoming more efficient.
 
But they need wind. That is what Mark Henderson, Bradley Rogers and others at Arizona State University-Polytechnic are trying to ascertain in connection with the Hopi Tribe in northern Arizona.
 
"We are doing a yearlong trial run to assess the energy potential before shelling out for a bigger wind-farm project," Henderson said.
 
The project would provide power to two villages on the reservation, create jobs and increase income on the reservation, should it prove successful.
 
For now, researchers have erected a 165-foot tower, equipped with various monitors to gauge wind speed, frequency, direction and temperature, on the edge of a mesa.
 
Other projects are under consideration at Gray Mountain, on the Navajo Reservation north of Flagstaff, and in Navajo County.
 
Steve Atkins of Northern Arizona University says the Gray Mountain site has the "best wind resource" in the state. Atkins is part of a team called the Arizona Wind Working Group that works out of NAU. The group has created maps that show where the wind is best in Arizona, helps with the development of sites and outreach to the community.
 
Wind is attractive largely because of state requirements that regulate utilities, like Arizona Public Service, provide certain amounts of their electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind.
 
Low-cost renewable option
 
"Wind is, by far, the lowest cost form of renewable energy," he says, "and the lowest cost for any new power generating source. So the bulk of this standard will be met with wind energy."
 
So far, APS has purchased wind power from other states, where more steady wind enables cheaper power production. But Atkins points out that wind plants in Arizona can generate other benefits, including increased tax bases and employment.
 
It's not all spring breezes and clean power, however.
 
The turbines are not only massive, they also are expensive. Mike Boyd of Western Wind Energy, who is leading the Kingman effort, says each tower will cost about $1.5 million.
 
In addition, plenty of people find them ugly. Plans for a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts ran into some other problems, but loss of pristine beachfront views was among them, and the project is on hold.
 
"Inconspicuous, they're not," acknowledges Real de Azua of the wind energy association. "It all depends on whether you find them ugly or not.
 
"Some do, but others find them a symbol of a clean energy future."


Source: http://www.azcentral.com/ar...

MAR 18 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1766-ariz-hopeful-it-can-power-up-with-wind
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