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County OK’s wind turbine for Wal-Mart center  

Credit:  A service of YellowBrix, Inc. Oct 16 - "Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY)" www.energycentral.com ~~

The Wal-Mart distribution center west of town could be getting a new source of power. The Laramie County Commission on Tuesday approved a site plan for a wind turbine that will help power the distribution center in the North Range Business Park. The turbine will be built, owned and operated by Fairfield Energy Partners, and Wal-Mart would buy all the power generated. The energy produced would relieve stress on the power grid and provide back-up power in case of a brown out, said Leone Medin. Medin is the director of project development for Fairfield Energy. The tower of the turbine stands 262 feet tall, and the blades will add another 164 feet to its height, the site plan shows. It would be slightly taller than the current turbines near Happy Jack Road, Medin said. The type of turbine Fairfield plans to build is relatively new, but it has been vetted and is safe, Medin said. It uses no oil, and the batteries that store the energy produce no heat. Both reduce the chance of fire, she added. And if wind speeds reach dangerous levels, a computer automatically will stop the blades. Commissioner Buck Holmes worried about the potential for the blades to hurl ice and damage nearby buildings or injury people. Medin said the turbine’s computer system would eliminate that danger. “There is no ice throwing from this turbine,” she said. “It just isn’t going to happen.” She added, “The wind industry is among the safest industries in the world.” Rep. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, spoke out against the plan, citing concerns about its proximity to residences. “I could only imagine having to look out my window every day and see (the turbine),” Hutchings said. John Shepherd, county planner, said there are only three residences within a mile of the proposed turbine site. In regard to concerns about the aesthetic quality of turbines, Holmes said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people like the look of wind turbines, some don’t.” Hutchings suggested that if Wal-Mart wants to increase its energy supply, it should consider adding solar panels to the center’s roof. Medin said there are no plans for that at this time, but she didn’t rule out the possibility. “That’s something we will talk with (Wal-Mart) about,” she added. Commissioner M. Lee Hasenauer was the only commissioner to vote against the plan. He said the continued construction of turbines in the area could hurt the state’s coal industry. He also called into question the motives of Fairfield Energy and Wal-Mart’ for wanting to invest in wind energy. “I believe this company is only after the tax write-offs,” he said. Medin said both companies would be eligible for tax credits, but those are not motivating factors. Christian Winger, a wind energy instructor at Laramie County Community College, said the school will partner with Fairfield Energy to provide students with hands-on experience. The turbine would be “an outstanding opportunity for the students,” Winger said. County OK’s wind turbine for Wal-Mart center

Source:  A service of YellowBrix, Inc. Oct 16 - "Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY)" www.energycentral.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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