Consortium to Test New Wind Turbines

Article excerpt

Although the potential for using the wind to produce electricity has so far been largely untapped, a new initiative combining local and federal resources could show that as much as 20 percent of the country's electrical power could be derived from this source by the year 2020, a leading proponent of wind power says.

The assessment was made by Dr. Edward DeMeo, who is in charge of wind and power energy at the Electric Power Research Institute, a national consortium of 700 utilities that is based in Palo Alto, Calif.

The institute recently joined with the U.S. Department of Energy to announce that three windy sites, in Texas, Vermont and Maine, had been chosen for a $40 million dollar program to test new wind turbines.

The plan is intended to help potential users of wind power judge the comparative economics.

The most ambitious of these wind farms will be on a ridge in northwest Maine, near the Canadian border. DeMeo said the initial plan called for 150 windmills.

The windmills will be built by Kenetech-U.S. Windpower to test its latest turbines, which produce maximum electricity even when winds are gusty. Their output will be sold to the Central Maine Power Co. and other utilities. By 1995, they could produce 30 to 50 megawatts, with an ultimate goal of 250 megawatts, enough to supply a city of 100,000.

The second site, near Readsboro, in southern Vermont, will include at least 20 wind turbines, in a project sponsored by the Green Mountain Power Corp. The utility will receive $3 million for construction and testing of an eightmegawatt plant. Since 1989, the company has been testing two turbines for performance in icy and harsh winters.

The third site, near Fort Davis in west Texas, where the weather is hot and dry, will consist of a six-megawatt plant with at least 20 windmills, run by the Central and South West Corp. which operates utilities in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. …

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