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Program to measure Cassia County winds  

Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what an anemometer is. Most people can barely pronounce the word.

Nonetheless, anemometers, which measure wind speed, are important scientific instruments, especially for anyone interested in building a wind farm or just plain interested in wind.

Now, Cassia County is looking for residents who might want to have anemometers installed on their land.

Leroy Jarolimek, who is planning to build a 19-unit wind farm near his home west of Burley, said wind can be a powerful resource, especially in a time when renewable energy sources are at a premium. Jarolimek said one small windmill he currently operates is enough to power his home and shop.

“It’s basically eliminated our power bill,” he said.

Jarolimek said the anemometer program could provide crucial wind research for experts looking to map the county’s wind patterns. He said the instruments are currently owned by Idaho Department of Water Resources, but the agency, already swamped with water issues, is looking to divest from energy matters.

Residents enrolled in the anemometer program must have land in an area that is subject to at least Class 3 wind n 13 to 14 mph on average at an altitude of 20 meters. Anemometers would stay on the land at least one year to record annual wind patterns.

Jarolimek said maintaining an anemometer is very little work, requiring only the changing of a flash-drive-sized component once every few months.

Untapped resource

Jarolimek said Idaho, especially Cassia County, is full of untapped potential for wind-energy generation. He blamed state legislators for not encouraging the development of that potential.

“Idaho has got a reputation among all the wind growers as not being pro-wind,” he said. “Idaho has all this potential, and our Legislature hasn’t even talked about it.”

Jarolimek said the difference between Idaho and states such as Texas, California and Minnesota, which actively encourage development of wind resources, is that Idaho is not willing to provide start-up money for wind projects. That leaves landowners interested in building wind farms leaning on investors n a dangerous prospect because if a project falls through without making back the investors’ money, the land itself can be used as collateral.

Had the state’s policy toward wind been more proactive, Jarolimek said, he might have been able to be a substantial owner in his own future wind farm. As it is, he owns about one half of one percent of it n plus the land it’s located on.

Jarolimek said he expects to break ground on the new wind farm this spring. After that, he anticipated about five to six months of construction time before its turbines are cranking out 28 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 18,000 homes.

By Sven Berg/Staff writer
Sven Berg may be reached at 208-677-8764 or sberg@southidahopress.com.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

southidahopress.com

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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