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Published: Monday, 2/13/2006

Elmore exploring new form of energy

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The turbines of Bowling Green's wind farm are visible from U.S. 6. Elmore
exploring
new form
of energy The turbines of Bowling Green's wind farm are visible from U.S. 6. Elmore exploring new form of energy
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ELMORE - Although the village owns a small part of Ohio's first utility-scale wind farm, Elmore officials are exploring the feasibility of buying their own wind turbines.

The village, population 1,426 in 2000, shares ownership of four massive wind turbines at the Wood County Landfill about six miles west of Bowling Green.

The wind farm is a venture that includes 10 municipalities, AMP-Ohio, and Green Mountain Energy. Fifty-six percent of it is owned by Bowling Green. The other 44 percent is owned by Elmore - the first community to join - and eight other Ohio municipalities that distribute power to their residents: Napoleon, Pioneer, Edgerton, Montpelier, Monroeville, Cuyahoga Falls, Oberlin, and Wadsworth.

A wind turbine is a generator that transforms the kinetic energy in the wind into electricity.

Elmore council recently gave permission to its Board of Public Affairs to spend $3,061 for a meteorologist to monitor the wind capabilities on the property where the wind turbines could be to see if the plan is feasible, Councilman Rick Claar said.

Council is eyeing 54 acres of village-owned property in a southwest section of Elmore on Dischinger Road as a potential windmill site.

If the feasibility study results are positive, the village would then have to pay for an engineering study and an anemometer to measure the wind speed for at least one year. Later, another study would need to be conducted to ensure the turbines would not be placed in the path of migrating birds.

But because Bowling Green's wind turbines cost more than $2 million each, Mr. Claar said the village would explore grants to help pay for the alternative energy source that would serve two-thirds of the village's electrical needs with one turbine.

Mr. Claar said village authorities are exploring wind power for several reasons: They would not "be held captive by an electrical company"; it would be cleaner; and since village officials would sell electricity, it would bring more revenue into Elmore.

"It's just like we have our own water system, and so we're not dependent on anybody else," he said.

Wind power is one of the world's fastest-growing forms of energy. While it accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. energy generation, wind power has been developing rapidly off the shores of several European countries.

Besides being clean and affordable, wind power saves water because its generators don't have to be cooled. And wind is free, renewable, predictable, and gives local communities control over their power supply.

Bowling Green's turbines collectively produce 7.2 megawatts of electricity a year - enough to power a village of 1,560 homes. Their hubs are about 270 feet off the ground, with the outer tips of the blades extending out 130 feet.

The turbines have created a buzz around a number of other smaller communities who do not own part of the Bowling Green wind farm, leaving some kicking around the idea of bringing wind power to their areas.

Last year, Oregon City Council heard a presentation on the benefits of wind-generated power. It referred the matter to council's public utilities and environmental committee, which has yet to meet on the idea.

"We are still interested in this," said council President Mike Sheehy, committee chairman. "When you see the energy costs not just on electricity, but on gas, municipal governments should explore any avenue that they can to find what alternate sources there are, and try to bring it to the marketplace. It's a good idea, but we just haven't pursued it yet."

But Oregon is a step behind Elmore and several steps behind at least six Ohio cities, including Bryan, in which more precise information is being collected on wind direction and velocity.

Bryan officials are halfway through their 18-month Tall Towers Wind Assessment Initiative study with Green Energy Ohio. The project is being funded by $110,000 in state and federal grants to see if the city would be a good place to put wind turbines.

Lou Pendleton, Bryan Municipal Utilities spokesman, said she's hoping the study will allow the city to add wind into its power mix.

"We've got quite a bit of wind," she said. "We're just in the process of studying if we have enough. It would be sustainable power, so if we could have it here locally, that would be even better."

Contact Erika Ray at: eray@theblade.com or 419-724-6088.



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