Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lessons from a ND Wind Farm

Last week I spent some time visiting friends in the Dakotas. One interesting thing that I enjoyed seeing first hand was the significant investment that North Dakota and its various partners have made in clean energy. Specifically they have developed multiple wind farms across the state to harness an asset of which they have an abundant supply.

Google took notice and in May announced that they were investing $38.8 million into two of these ND wind farms. Just those two alone are set to produce 169.5 megawatts of power which is enough to power some 55,000 homes. North Dakota's entire population is about 640,000. Add to those numbers the power currently coming from the other wind farms in the state and you have a wealth of clean power being generated. So much so that North Dakota actually exports some of this clean energy.

I got a close up look at the wind farm in Edgeley, ND. I had just a few general observations after having actually been near the 800 acre site. Although I didn't expect them to be small, I was a little surprised at just how large the turbines were (330 feet from top to bottom). Another interesting note was how the wind farm in Edgeley has apparently been accepted by the town. In fact, in 7 years it appears that they have become a big part of the town's identity.

As I was admiring North Dakota's use of wind power, I couldn't help but think back to my own state and similar efforts that are just getting off the ground . I wondered what lessons might be learned from the North Dakota wind farms that might benefit Wisconsin's pursuit of clean energy technology. I also couldn't help but hope that as this industry continues to expand that all of these wind farms will be serviced by the new turbine manufacturing company that will be locating in the City of Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley.

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