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Study Underway to Evaluate Local Wind Energy Resources

Contact: Weston Arndt, WPPI Energy Services Representative, 715-829-5505

MARCH 28, 2008--The city of River Falls, Wis., already having received recognition as a national leader in the use of renewable energy, may eventually be able to draw some of its clean, green power from a local generating source. Recently installed wind measurement equipment will help assess conditions for wind energy projects to serve local demand for renewable energy.

A 197-foot wind measurement tower, which was installed on March 20, is located atop the Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park, to the southwest of Minnesota Rubber and Plastics. 

"Data collected from the tower will be used to evaluate the potential for Wisconsin Public Power Inc., our community's nonprofit power supplier, to locate a community-based wind project in River Falls," says Carl Gaulke, manager of River Falls Municipal Utilities.

Through its Community-Based Wind Program, Wisconsin Public Power Inc. (WPPI) is working with a number of its member electric utilities and local officials to install up to 24 megawatts of wind power in several of its member communities.

"Placing utility-scale wind generators in a number of member communities will allow us and other WPPI member utilities to supply clean, renewable wind energy to customers while avoiding the costs and energy losses associated with moving energy over longer distances from more remote sources," said Gaulke.  

In River Falls, the wind measurement tower will be used to gather local wind speed and direction information at three different heights along the tower. Wind speeds at ground level are often quite different than those higher above ground.   Taking measurements from different heights will provide data needed to estimate wind speeds at turbine hub heights, which can be as tall as 262 feet. 

For WPPI's Community-Based Wind Program, installation of the measurement tower represents the first in a number of steps that EcoEnergy, WPPI's developer for the program, must take to assess whether local conditions are suitable for wind energy development.

EcoEnergy would develop the wind energy facilities and, through a long-term power purchase agreement, WPPI would purchase the wind power. The turbines would be connected to the local electric distribution system and would supply clean, renewable energy directly to the city of River Falls.

Data collected from the measurement towers could also prove useful for evaluating renewable resource development options for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Last year, the university, River Falls Municipal Utilities and WPPI signed a memorandum of understanding outlining their intentions to develop mutually beneficial renewable energy and energy conservation programs, projects and educational activities within the community and on campus. UW-River Falls is one of four Wisconsin universities identified by Gov. Jim Doyle for achieving energy independence within five years through the use of innovative energy generation methods and the use of "green" energy provided by local utilities without the use of fossil fuels.

River Falls Municipal Utilities is member-owner of WPPI, a regional power company serving 49 customer-owned electric utilities. Through WPPI, these public power utilities share resources and own generation facilities to provide reliable, affordable electricity to more than 190,000 homes in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa.  

With 5.4 percent of residential customers purchasing green power equal to all or a portion of their electric use, River Falls Municipal Utilities currently ranks ninth in the nation on an annual list of top customer participation rates in renewable energy programs among U.S. electric utilities.

Community-owned River Falls Municipal Utilities was the only Wisconsin utility to make the 2007 list, which is compiled annually by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:52 Central Daylight Time


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