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Regents OK turbines at Skidaway

LAWRENCEVILLE – Georgia Power Co. won permission Tuesday from the Board of Regents’ Real Estate Committee to erect a weather tower and four turbines on 6 acres of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography as part of an experiment on coastal wind.

Georgia Power is working with Georgia Southern University to study the availability of wind on the coast for generating electricity. It will also examine the impact of the turbines on birds and the feasibility of using what are considered small turbines, less than 10 kilowatt each.

Typical turbines installed in wind farms in Texas, Kansas and other Midwestern states generate nearly 200 times more power. Since winds here are less constant and at lower velocity, many experts have concluded that those turbines would be impractical in the Peach State.

Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said the turbines in the Skidaway test will be 130 feet high – or about the height of a tall pine tree – roughly half of the 262 feet or 24 stories for the giant, utility-scale models seen in wind farms out west.

“After almost a complete year of rigorous site selection, Skidaway was identified as a great location for the potential wind resource, land availability and access to electric distribution lines. Additionally, SKIO’s mission of research fits well with this project,” he said. “We are excited about our partnership with SKIO to host this project.”

Georgia Southern isn’t the only school involved. Since Skidaway is now part of the University of Georgia, UGA will claim the renewable-energy credits resulting from the project to help that school meet its long-range environmental goals.

The regents, meeting at Georgia Gwinnett College, also approved any easements required during construction or operation of the projects.

The utility will pay $5,168 annually to lease the land for up to two years with an option for another six months. It will also bury wires for what is termed an electrical distribution system.

At the end of the lease, Georgia Power will dismantle the turbines and offer UGA the weather tower.

Georgia Power is also searching for a mountain location for a similar test.