Wind turbines have become more and more of a common sight in many parts of the country; certainly along the Columbia Gorge and in some areas of eastern Oregon. Heavy federal subsidies have prompted many investors to erect these large power generators to help provide more power to an energy hungry nation.
Lincoln County Solid Waste Program Manager Mark Saelens told Lincoln County Commissioners Wednesday that there is a possible lucrative investment opportunity for Lincoln County by getting into the wind power business. He said there are a number of grants available to reduce the investment cost while reaping a substantial return on power sales from wind generators placed in at least a couple of locations; near Thompson Sanitation in Newport and near the Waldport campus of Oregon Coast Community College.
Saelens said that local governments have an opportunity for easier entry into the wind generating business through a technological innovation in ascertaining whether there exists local winds sufficient to build wind turbines. He said it’s like “sound radar” in which sounds are injected into the air at a specific location and then electronically recorded. The difference in the sounds reveal the presence of wind, both in direction and velocity. If, over a period of time, winds are sufficient to justify investing in wind turbines, the county could erect them and sell their power to the local power grid. Sales can run into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, over time.
The idea got the attention of the commissioners who said they were interested in pursuing specifics on the financials. But they also cautioned that any forward movement on the project must be subjected to a full and open public airing of the proposal and aspects of county income, including what many would term the “visual blight” such large wind turbines would pose along our coast.
And they pretty much left it at that.