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County may be wind farm material  

www.fortwayne.com

By Ryan Lengerich rlengerich@news-sentinel.com

A Pennsylvania wind energy development company wants to study Allen County, the first step toward potentially building a wind farm in the area.

Community Energy Inc. of Wayne, Pa., has petitioned the county to build a 190-foot meteorological mast on farmland at the 200 block of South State Line Road in Woodburn. The company would use the mast to analyze wind conditions at the site for at least one year.

A wind farm is a grouping of wind turbines used to create electricity. Wind energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the world, according to the company’s Web site.

The Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals will have a public hearing and is likely to vote Sept. 13 on whether to allow Community Energy to build the mast. If the request is granted, the company could conduct the study for as long as five years if necessary.

“It is the very first step of our own assessment of this potential site,” said Paul Copleman, company spokesman. “It certainly doesn’t guarantee that a wind farm is coming.”

The 80-acre tract on State Line Road is a strong candidate for any wind farm, but the company could choose another spot if they decide to move into Allen County. Community Energy has marketed or developed nine wind farms in Eastern states with another near completion and two in Illinois, according to the Web site. A small-to-average wind farm has about 12 wind turbines generating 60 million kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power about 7,000 households for a year, Copleman said.

The company would lease the land. With the county’s approval, a single pole supported by wires could be erected in a matter of weeks.

If the company deems the spot worthwhile, with many public meetings and state permission, the farm could be under construction in two years, Copleman said.

There are no wind farms in Indiana, but Copleman said his company has three existing single masts scattered in Indiana, though he didn’t give specific locations. He said there are “dozens more and growing” nationwide.

Community Energy sees potential in Indiana and has been studying Allen County for more than six months. Indiana does not have as much wind power as North Dakota, South Dakota, California, Texas and others along the coasts. A map rating the most effective places for wind power lists the northern half of Indiana as “marginal,” leaving the southern half unrated.

“Community Energy is very much interested in bringing to operation new clean sources of energy,” Copleman said.

Wind energy requires no fuel, creates no emissions from burning fuels and farming can still take place around the turbines. But environmental groups say bird mortality is a significant problem, as birds that drift into the blades are often killed.

Aesthetically, wind farms can be seen for miles in some areas and are considered unsightly to some people living nearby.
Public hearing

What: Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting about proposed study in Woodburn

When: 1 p.m., Sept. 13

Where : City/County Building, 1 E. Main St. room 126

On the Web:

www.communityenergy.biz

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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