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Published: Wednesday, 2/14/2007

County may form wind-power panel


The cold winds that chilled folks to the bone last week actually might be useful for keeping warm.

Fulton County commissioners are considering a committee to study the possibility of erecting wind turbines for power production. Such a project wouldn't be a breeze.

It would likely take about 15 years before savings could be realized, according to Daryl Stockburger, a consultant who addressed commissioners last week.

Mr. Stockburger is credited with getting wind turbines at the Wood County landfill.

He is now chief project consultant with North Coast Wind & Power LLC based in Port Clinton. The firm is carrying out wind studies in Elmore in Ottawa County, in Michigan's Wash-tenaw County, and in Carmel, Ind., just north of Indianapolis.

Dean Genter, president of the county commissioners, said he would like to see wind turbines in Fulton County like those that have been online near Bowling Green since 2003.

Commissioners are considering organizing a committee with representatives from Wauseon, the county's villages, business, industry, and people interested in alternative energy, he said.

Such a committee would almost certainly focus on the quality of Fulton County's winds, which appear to be most useful in the Fayette and Metamora areas.

"Just one mile per hour average wind speed is a big deal for power production," Mr. Stockburger said.

Erecting a single wind turbine to produce enough power for 400 homes would cost $3 million to $3.5 million, Mr. Stockburger said. Turbines that produce enough power for more than 22,000 homes would cost $130 million to $150 million.

And each turbine should have at least $25,000 in maintenance per year.

"I once heard it described as maintaining a bus 250 feet in the air," Mr. Stockburger said.

Considering those costs, plus interest on the investment, he estimated it would take about 15 years to pay off the major expenses before the costs of generating power from wind would be cheaper than from more commonly used sources.

Turbines should last about 30 years, Mr. Stockburger said, but he added that grants and subsidies are key for many ventures.

Contact Jane Schmucker at: jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.

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