CANTON, Mo. – There’s a surprising amount of activity – and a potential source of renewable energy – lurking in the skies above Northeast Missouri.
The Missouri Wind Resources Steering Committee is exploring the region’s wind energy potential and will present some initial findings Thursday night. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in Merillat Chapel at the Robert W. Brown Performing Arts Center on the Culver-Stockton College campus.
“This is not an opportunity for investment. It’s strictly for information,” said John Wood, a Monticello farmer involved in the effort. “We’re hopeful we can power a good percent of homes in the 9th District in a couple of years. It looks like with a modest investment in wind turbines we can provide a lot of power needs.”
Wood said preliminary findings from the grant-funded study show some “pretty neat stuff” to benefit the area.
The committee is looking at data supplied by the National Weather Service, University of Missouri, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and from collection points on three radio towers.
At a tower north of Centralia, “we’re collecting data at 650 feet above ground – the highest one in the state of Missouri, and it may be one of the highest ones in the country,” Wood said. “There’s an interesting amount of wind at height in this part of the state. There’s more wind at night than people realize. A lot of nights it’s dead calm on the ground, but there’s a good breeze blowing upstairs.”
The committee organized in February 2006 with members from Knox, Lewis, Marion and Osage counties and the Bootheel with 20,000 acres of land and an interest in farming wind.
A consultant involved in Wood’s Grassland Beef business with wind energy experience sparked interest in seeking a Value-Added Producer Grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development for the project.
The committee is working to match the $100,000 federal grant with locally-raised funds with help through the Lewis County Industrial Development Authority.
“We’re about to close the gap on that,” Wood said. “Now people can see we’ve got something really exciting. When we started doing this a year ago, we didn’t know what we had.”
Plans call for having a prospectus out this time next year, but “we need to prove we have the wind resource before we go any further,” Wood said.
“The real story here is we’re trying to create an ethanol-style cooperative where local people can invest in this thing,” he said. “Our model is to try to generate wealth as much as we can from local investors. Then we’ve got local money spent and local money earned.”
Wood sees potential partnerships for the committee with other renewable energy sources, possibly with Quincy’s hydroelectric effort. “Combining hydro and wind is the best of all possible worlds,” he said. “The beauty of it is the wind will continue to blow. It’s not subject to whims of the grain market.”
More information about the Missouri Wind Resources Steering Committee and Thursday night’s meeting is available by calling John Wood at (660) 341-2789.
By Deborah Gertz Husar
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
3 December 2007
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