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NASA wind farm put out to pasture

The wind farm that NASA has talked about building for years at the space agency’s Plum Brook Station has been delayed and may never be built.

After discussing the proposal publicly for several years and holding at least one public meeting to publicize the green energy venture, NASA officials quietly put the project on hold in July 2014, more than a year ago.

NASA Glenn spokeswoman Lori Rachul said agency officials have cited several reasons for their current lack of interest.

“Market analysis and feasibility studies had indicated a favorable climate for wind resource development, but elimination of the Production Tax Credit, extension of renewable energy generation targets for Ohio public utilities, the low price of Renewable Energy Credits, and relatively cheap fossil fuel (natural gas) have diminished the present economic climate for a wind farm. Until the economics improve, the wind farm project is on hold,” she said.

NASA Glenn began work on the wind farm in 2009 by submitting a proposal to NASA headquarters to obtain study funds for the project, Rachul said. The proposed wind farm would have had up to 26 wind turbines.

In a 2013 interview, NASA’s wind farm project manager, Bryan Coates, touted the project as a way for NASA to provide clean energy leadership.

“NASA would generate clean renewable energy and would set an example of leadership in environmental and facility stewardship. Also … federal agencies must increase the amount of electric power generated from renewable sources,” Coates said.

As of this year, NASA as a whole must generate 7.5 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. The available land at (the) Plum Brook Station offers a unique opportunity for NASA Glenn (in Cleveland) to meet the center’s goal and support the agency in helping meet its future renewable energy goals,” he said.

NASA held a public meeting on the proposed wind farm in 2010 at Sandusky High School, and about 50 people showed up.

They were told NASA envisions a $100 million wind farm consisting of 20 to 30 wind turbines that could generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity apiece when the wind blows, or a total of up to 70 megawatts – enough electricity for 20,000 households.