Wind farms similar to those found on the Eastern Plains and southern Wyoming could be creeping closer to Fort Collins and the Colorado Front Range.
The Fort Collins City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night that will allow Platte River Power Authority to put two 60-meter meteorological towers on the city’s Meadow Springs Ranch property to collect detailed wind-speed and other weather data during an 18-month period as PRPA investigates potential wind sites.
PRPA provides power to the communities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Estes Park.
“We have been approached by a couple of (private) developers and the PRPA to see what kind of wind there is up there over time,” said Patty Bigner, a spokeswoman for the Fort Collins Utilities. “We’re looking at it now and seeing if it would have some potential to be a wind site in the future.”
The ranch is about 25 miles north of Fort Collins.
Wind in Colorado is intermittent in nature, blowing harder on some days and in certain seasons at distinct locations but not in others. Detailed wind data from Meadow Springs Ranch, north of Fort Collins, is the first step toward wind production at that site, but many hurdles remain before energy production would begin, Bigner said.
“Wherever the wind is located, there is still a very complex transmission system that needs to be put in place,” she said. “Putting the (meteorological) towers up is very preliminary to see if there is potential for a wind (farm) up there … It’s still far away at this point.”
In a letter to the city, PRPA said the site is attractive because of its proximity to existing generation and transmission facilities and because of its continued effort to expand its renewable energy portfolio. It didn’t indicate the probability of putting a wind farm at Meadow Springs Ranch, which the city purchased in the early 1990s.
“Platte River would like to begin gathering this data as quickly as possible, preferably during February 2008,” wrote John Bleem, PRPA’s division manager of customer and environmental services. “At this point, we are simply seeking data to help evaluate this site as a possible option for the future.”
The authority operates the Medicine Bow Wind Project site in Wyoming and began delivering wind energy to Fort Collins Utilities for its Wind Power Pilot Program in the spring of 1998. In 1999 and 2000, additional turbines were built to serve Estes Park, Longmont and Loveland.
Council member Wade Troxell said he approved of the permitting because of the potential value it can bring the city.
“There are a lot of lands north of here that have great potential for wind generation,” Troxell said after the meeting. “I think we’re helping to give the city options. Although it’s not a slam dunk, I think we’re going to see wind turbines north of town at some point.”
By Jason Kosena
20 February 2008
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