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Fort Peck Tribes harness prairie wind

POPLAR — The Fort Peck Tribes are taking advantage of the ever-present prairie winds to reduce their electric bill. Electricity from two, 50-kilowatt wind turbines began flowing into the Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs complex in Poplar this week, and tribal officials expect to cut their power bills by two-thirds, at a savings of $30,000 annually. The planning for the two towers started 10 years ago when a study showed the average wind speed on some spots on the reservation averaged 15 mph, said Tribal Councilman Stoney Anketell, who pushed for the project since 1996.

POPLAR — The Fort Peck Tribes are taking advantage of the ever-present prairie winds to reduce their electric bill.

Electricity from two, 50-kilowatt wind turbines began flowing into the Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs complex in Poplar this week, and tribal officials expect to cut their power bills by two-thirds, at a savings of $30,000 annually.

The planning for the two towers started 10 years ago when a study showed the average wind speed on some spots on the reservation averaged 15 mph, said Tribal Councilman Stoney Anketell, who pushed for the project since 1996.

"These wind conditions out here are ideal for this," Anketell said. "But it's only the first step of where we want to go."

Anketell said his goal is to eventually obtain the resources to build a wind farm on the reservation to provide power for all of the 12,000 Assiniboine and Sioux tribal members. Extra power, he said, could be sold to power companies.

The initial study showed Fort Peck is able to support a utility-scale wind farm.

"The neat thing about wind is that it can go 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Allan Hardtke, a wind energy expert from Billings hired by the tribe to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

POPLAR — The Fort Peck Tribes are taking advantage of the ever-present prairie winds to reduce their electric bill.

Electricity from two, 50-kilowatt wind turbines began flowing into the Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs complex in Poplar this week, and tribal officials expect to cut their power bills by two-thirds, at a savings of $30,000 annually.

The planning for the two towers started 10 years ago when a study showed the average wind speed on some spots on the reservation averaged 15 mph, said Tribal Councilman Stoney Anketell, who pushed for the project since 1996.

"These wind conditions out here are ideal for this," Anketell said. "But it's only the first step of where we want to go."

Anketell said his goal is to eventually obtain the resources to build a wind farm on the reservation to provide power for all of the 12,000 Assiniboine and Sioux tribal members. Extra power, he said, could be sold to power companies.

The initial study showed Fort Peck is able to support a utility-scale wind farm.

"The neat thing about wind is that it can go 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Allan Hardtke, a wind energy expert from Billings hired by the tribe to help install the turbines and help with the project.

The Tribes and Fort Peck Community College obtained a $350,000 grant five years ago to build one, larger tower on the reservation. The larger tower would have cost $965,000 but the tribes didn't have the money to complete the project.

In danger of losing the grant in 2005, Anketell and Hardtke came up with a plan to save the project for a smaller price tag. The tribe decided to try two smaller towers, instead of one larger one.

"We changed the scope of the grant and resubmitted it. When we got the green light it set everything in motion," Anketell said.

The tribe had to match the grant by providing labor and construction costs for both towers. Hardtke's Billings company, with the help of tribal workers, installed the towers.

As soon as the wind turbines were erected last week, they got a workout during some mild storms. For the turbines to turn, the wind must blow at least 8 miles an hour to generate electricity.

"If we had a third turbine we'd bring our power bill down to nothing. But that's in the future," Hardtke said.


Source: http://www.greatfallstribun...

SEP 22 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/4765-fort-peck-tribes-harness-prairie-wind
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