It might be worth showing up at the Columbia City Council meeting tomorrow night just to hear folks try to pronounce “anemometer.”
That’s the device the city wants to put on top of the KOMU-TV tower south of town to measure wind speeds. City officials want to find out whether there’s enough wind to generate electricity for local use.
The city council is slated to vote on a resolution recommended by city staff calling for the city to pay $11,626 to the Department of Soil, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia to install the device and record the data.
Dan Dasho, director of the city’s Water and Light Department, said the partnership with MU would be a good deal for the city.
An informal quote from a wind study group in North Dakota estimated that it would cost $25,000 to construct a tower, according to a water and light staff memo, and finding the proper site for such a structure would be a problem.
Dasho said local wind speed data would likely be collected for at least a year before taking other steps to determine whether wind generators would be practical here.
“You’d want to get all four seasons in there and probably go a little bit longer than that,” he said.
The deal with MU provides for three sets of anemometers and wind vanes installed at three different heights on the 500-foot tower. In addition, a thermometer would be installed to gauge air temperature, and additional instruments would record and transmit the data.
Dasho said that city employees have worked with employees at MU and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on projects related to renewable energy sources such as wind or sun.
Those relationships led city employees to approach MU for help with the local wind study. MU already is studying wind speeds as part of a statewide project.
The wind speed study is connected with a voter-approved law that requires a portion of the city’s energy to come from renewable sources.
The city signed a first-of-its-kind deal last year to buy as much as 7 megawatts of electricity from Wind Capital Group’s Bluegrass Ridge wind farm in King City beginning today. The deal represents 2 percent of the city’s electricity needs.
But getting that power has been postponed until February, when the city expects to resolve a regulatory issue related to transmission line capacity.
By Kevin Coleman
1 July 2007
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