Winds of fortune on horizon?
Published: Saturday, January 6th, 2007
Take a bunch of wind turbines, those tall columns with the propellers (and a generator) on top, site them in a carefully designed group, and tie them together into an electric grid, and you've created what is known as a wind farm. Now creating a wind farm leaves most of the land on which it is placed completely free for whatever other use the owner of the land chooses to make of the land. But, of course, the owner of the wind farm pays rent (a royalty on the electricity produced) to the owner of the land. So the land's owner gets a pretty good income from a wind farm that's located on his or her land. But the landowner's income is not nearly as much as the income of the owner of the wind farm itself, with all those wind turbines and the electricity they produce – from the wind, which nature provides, for free. Now creating that wind farm, buying and installing all those wind turbines and connecting them to powerful electrical transmission lines, takes millions and millions of dollars. But people (or rather, companies – especially electric utility companies) are doing it. They're so eager to invest in wind farms that the manufacturers of wind turbines have more business than they can handle. Even so, a wind farm can be put up in far less time than a conventional electric power plant, one that uses coal, oil, or natural gas. Actually, it's said that a wind farm will pay for itself before a conventional plant could have been erected. So a wind farm can be a pretty good investment – even for the people who pay for the electricity that the wind farm produces. In a number of locations, people who, at first, had to pay a premium for electricity from a wind farm, have found that they're saving money on the wind-generated electricity they're buying. Wind farming and the wind turbines that produce the electricity are complex technological businesses that are hard to explain, especially when you can't understand nacelles and variable pitch propellers that run at a constant speed and things like that. And there is controversy. The wind doesn't blow all the time. Electricity from the wind can't be your only source of electricity. You still need conventional electricity for most of the time. And while some people may think the wind turbines look beautiful, there are others who do not want wind turbines on a local ridge or even offshore of their "scenic" sea-side homes. But even so, wind farming is booming. About 500 megawatts are produced by wind turbines in New Mexico currently, and by the end of the year it’s estimated 630 megawatts could be added to the region, that also includes nearby Texas. They want to provide the educational component, an eight-week certificate course, for the the institute; and provide the facility where researchers, turbine manufacturers, wind farm owners and others involved in wind engery can study wind farm operations and maintenance. It's also estimated that 10,000 wind technicians will be needed in the United States in the future. And wind farm owners, who have been quick to install and get on existing transmission grids, are now anxious to operate at the most efficiently. So, it does seem that MCC has hit on a good idea with its North American Wind Research and Training Center. Chelle Delaney is associate publisher for the Quay County Sun. Contact her at 461-1952 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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