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Mt. Bachelor considers wind turbines  

Wind turbines on Mount Bachelor are an option the ski area will look at this summer as it seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent.

Internal surveys will determine the ski area’s current fuel, propane and electricity usage and where reductions could be made, said communications manager Janette Sherman.

She said ski resorts nationwide are hurt by global warming and reduced snow and it is in their interests to reduce emissions.

“We’ll be looking at where we can cut, not in terms of our services, but in terms of where there may be excess (energy usage) that leads to emissions,” Sherman said.

The survey is part of Park City, Utah-based POWDR Corp.’s efforts to lower carbon gas emissions at the company’s six resorts, including Mount Bachelor.

Mount Bachelor buys almost 700,000 kilowatt-hours of wind-generated power annually from La Pine-based Midstate Electric Cooperative, Bachelor’s utility provider.

Sherman said this summer the ski area will look into onsite wind turbines and solar panels.

Elliot Mainzer, manager of transmission policy at the Bonneville Power Administration, said onsite wind production is expensive and that the area may want to reconsider.

“I think the fundamental question for them is whether they want to put something in on their own or work with a utility company to build elsewhere, then purchase that power,” Mainzer said. “My guess is (the second option) will be more cost-effective.”

Cylvia Hayes, executive director of 3EStrategies, a Bend-based nonprofit renewable resources advocacy firm, said current technology should be able to compensate for Bachelor’s strong winds.

The issue, Hayes said, comes back to cost.

“Wind turbines are expensive,” she said. “They usually require high enough quantities for them to pay off, and that requires a steady wind speed to do any good.”

Tom Knappenberger, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest region, said the ski area would have to go through several steps before installing turbines.

“They would have to apply to amend their special use permit,” he said. “And we would have to do an environmental assessment to make sure the new uses are within our guidelines.”

“It’s an ambitious program,” Hayes said. “But they can really pioneer this effort, and maybe smooth the way for other entities to push for renewable energy production.”

Associated Press


8 April 2007

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