Northwest Indiana steel mills could be putting up wind mills in the coming years to reduce energy costs. The region has good potential to generate wind power, which could lower energy costs for steel plants and municipalities, according to the Hoosier Environmental Council.
ArcelorMittal is already exploring the feasibility at its Indiana Harbor plant. The company has put up monitoring devices to assess the direction, speed and strength of the wind.
“We are studying wind patters at our operating locations, including Cleveland and Indiana Harbor, to determine whether additional wind farms will be economical in those locations,” said ArcelorMittal USA’s director of environmental affairs and real estate, Keith Nagel, in a recent company newsletter.
The company operates the largest wind farm on the Great Lakes at a brownfield site at its Lackawanna, N.Y., plant. Eight windmills cost $4.25 million each and generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity – enough to power more than 720 average homes for a year. The move was a way to lower costs, reduce dependence on outside sources of energy and reduce generation of greenhouse gases.
Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the HEC, hopes other companies and municipalities in Northwest Indiana will follow that lead.
“Much of the wind energy potential has been further south, but the Region has wind energy potential,” Kharbanda said. “The manufacturing sector is under constant international economic pressure, so in order to maintain good margins, they need to find ways to cut operating costs. One of them is energy.”
The HEC intends to make the argument to Northwest Indiana decision-makers this fall with the help of a $200,000 grant from the McKinney Family Foundation announced Wednesday. Part of the grant will be used to hold forums to inform business leaders and others about the benefits of renewable energy, such as wind power. One forum will likely be held in Gary or Hammond, Kharbanda said.
He said rural areas are good locations for wind mills, but that East Chicago may also be a possibility.
“The East Chicago Sanitary District, I believe they have property that’s basically vacant. It might be one that could be redeveloped into siting some wind turbines,” Kharbanda said. “The sanitary district may say, we’re going to go off the grid, or partly off the grid, and supply part of our power from wind power.”
The rest of the HEC grant will be used to improve air quality in Northwest Indiana. The McKinney Family Foundation has pledged to match any donations up to $200,000 given to the HEC until 2010. The organization plans a major fund raising effort later this summer.
By Gitte Laasby
Post-Tribune staff writer
15 May 2008
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