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State Lands Exhibit Wind-Power Potential

by Dave Wilkins, Staff Writer
Capital Press - August 23, 2002

BOISE -- Call them the drafty dozen.

Idaho has identified the top 12 sites for potential wind farm developments on state-owned land.

The State Energy Division reviewed about 200 possible sites before boiling the list down to 12. Seven are in southwestern Idaho, three are in the eastern part of the state and two are in Northern Idaho.

The sites, listed without priority from north to south, are:

Wind power experts will scrutinize the 12 areas and narrow the list to a top five ranking. Wind-measuring devices called anemometers will be installed on towers at the five sites. Data will be collected for a period of one year.

Commercial Prospects
The information, which will be shared with state land managers, could be used to market the state-owned sites to commercial wind farm developers.

Idaho is still without any commercial wind farms.

Based on wind resources alone, many of the 200 sites that the state originally looked at would make good candidates for a wind farm, officials said. But most were eliminated because they didn't meet other criteria.

"You can have the best wind in the world, but if it's on top of a mountain without any power transmission lines or roads nearby, it's of no value," said Dick Larsen, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Water Resources, the agency that oversees the State Energy Division.

Maps to Search
To develop the list of 12 sites, scientists used a digital map of Idaho wind power resources overlaid with grids, pinpointing areas of state-owned lands.

Graphic specialists then added additional layers of data showing transmission lines, roads and other important wind power development requirements.

The result was a matrix that allowed scientists to rank those areas of state-owned lands with the highest potential for wind energy development.

While the state tries to complete its wind energy studies, some private companies are moving ahead even faster.

One company, Palm Springs, Calif.-based enXco, has entered into at least 13 agreements to set up anemometers on private lands.

One device on the Notch Butte Farm north of Jerome has been measuring wind data for nearly a year.

"They have a lot of data showing good wind potential there," Larsen said. "That looks like a viable project."

Dave Wilkins, Capital Press Staff Writer
State Lands Exhibit Wind-Power Potential
Capital Press - August 23, 2002

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