CHAMBERSBURG >> Along with new ideas for the borough including LED street lights and a landfill gas project, borough officials are discussing the possibility of a wind turbine to generate power for the borough.
Wind turbines take the kinetic energy of wind and convert it into usable energy, according to the International Energy Agency.
“Once appropriate permissions and approvals are granted it would likely be placed in the borough or a borough-owned facility allowing all the power to come in to the borough’s electric system,” said Ron Pezon, electric superintendent.
Pezon added that everything is “very preliminary at this point and subject to change” and that officials are watching for technologies to develop for areas with relatively low winds.
Chambersburg is one of only 35 communities that produces, uses and sells its own electric power.
Global wind power capacity has grown an average of 25 percent over the past five years, with 238 gigawatts at the end of 2011, up from 18 gigawatts at the end of 2000, according to the IEA.
“We will likely be establishing first an inexpensive anemometer station or perhaps two to study wind speeds,” Pezon said.
The costs for a utility scale wind turbine in 2012 range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per megawatt, according to Windustry, a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization that works throughout the United States promoting community-owned renewable energy.
They report most commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 megawatt in size and cost roughly $3-$4 million installed, but wind turbines under 100 kilowatts cost roughly $3,000 to $8,000 per kilowatt of capacity.
If the borough decides to pursue the project, Pezon said the turbine would supply a small portion of the borough’s needs but would be a part of the borough’s “varied portfolio of energy and generation assets.”
If the plan continues, local municipalities will be involved and if conditions warrant, at least one Federal Aviation Administration agency will be involved.
Representatives from the Flight Standards office in Harrisburg, the agency that covers Franklin County, did not return calls by press time.
While wind power is not prevalent in Franklin County, James Buchanan High School had a wind turbine and solar hot water heater installed in February of last year.
The turbine came from Penn State University’s Wind for Schools program. Funding from Penn State ($12,000), West Penn Power ($6,000) and the Tuscarora Education Foundation ($2,000) helped make the turbine a reality.
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