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State Seeks to Test Windy Areas

Feb 28, 2006, - Deseret News (Salt Lake City)

In an effort to enhance the state's wind energy program, the Utah Geological Survey is looking for participants to help determine the best potential sources of wind energy around the state.

As part of the project, the state will loan wind-measuring devices, called anemometers, to landowners, schools, farmers and other property owners in hopes of finding the areas where the wind is strong enough for sustained energy development.

"Anemometers are tall poles that have a couple of measuring devices on them," said Jason Berry, state renewable energy coordinator. "One measures wind speed and the other measures direction."

Berry said the state is looking for up to eight sites with strong, consistent winds that could be developed commercially or for residential use.

"We are specifically looking for potential sites along the Utah- Wyoming border in Rich and Summit counties as well as other areas in southwestern Utah," he said.

Berry said areas along the Wasatch Front aren't suitable for this kind of energy development due to the inconsistency of the winds. "With the exception of certain geographical features, like the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon, most winds are too localized," he said.

He said Beaver and Iron counties contain areas with good wind development potential in addition to northern parts of the state.

"We're looking for winds that are 12 to 16 miles an hour on average for commercial development," Berry said. "That's the kind of wind speeds you see out near Evanston." For residential development, he said winds should be in the 10 to 12 mph range.

Participants will have 20-meter or 50-meter anemometer towers installed on their property by the UGS at no cost, along with monitoring equipment for a one-year period.

Berry said the data will help the UGS better understand the nature of Utah's wind resource. Qualifying participants will be required each month to send in a data plug in exchange for a monthly data analysis report. After a year, the state will issue a final report on the feasibility of small or large-scale wind development on the participant's property, he said.

The deadline for applications is Saturday. Details are available at geology.utah.gov/sep/wind.

He noted a company called UPC Wind is already targeting a large site in Beaver County near Milford that could potentially be a major source of wind energy.

"It is initially going to be 17,000 acres," he said. "It's a perfect spot. It's relatively flat with just a little sagebrush here and there." Berry added the site is tentatively scheduled for development sometime in mid-summer.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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