Free to a good home: Grant adds Pa. wind turbine sites

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SALEM, Ohio – Small wind turbines will be coming to four western Pennsylvania communities, thanks to a grant that lets public properties receive the machinery without cost.
The Small Wind Energy Project will put turbines in 15 counties across the Keystone State and is funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority.
The turbines are project to be built and operational by this fall.
Grant program. Urged into action by Gov. Edward Rendell, PEDA awarded a $193,000 grant to Southwest Windpower to build and place 15 small, advanced-technology wind turbines in highly visible locations at schools, local government buildings and other public facilities across the state.
Each of the turbines will generate enough electricity to power a typical residence and aim to get people thinking about adopting alternative energy sources.
“America needs to find its own sources of clean energy. This is the means to get people focused to take steps and make investments to move that forward,” said Charlie Young, Department of Environmental Protection spokesman.
Greene County. Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority is one of the turbine recipients.
The authority, a public water supply agency serving portions of 21 municipalities in Greene, Fayette and Washington counties, will site a turbine near its South-East Franklin Water Storage Reservoir. The site is highly visible from heavily traveled Interstate 79.
The authority wants to use the turbine to power its radio communications system, the Greene County 911 radio transmitter and the beacon for the Greene County Airport.
Erie County. The Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority will also receive a turbine.
The machine’s placement will be between Bayfront Center for Maritime Studies, the Erie Maritime Museum and Erie County Public Library’s main branch in Erie.
Charlie Young said the maritime entities plan educational outreach activities on wind energy.
According to wind analysis maps, Erie is one of the most desirable sites for turbines statewide since winds off Lake Erie will provide ample power.
Washington and Beaver. Young said Beaver County’s turbine will be sited in Economy borough.
Its home will be in the middle of 35 acres of borough-owned property, where three office buildings, a road department garage, a police building, and the park and ball fields are located.
Washington County’s site is on the campus of the Canon-McMillan High School.
Moving forward. Young said Pennsylvania is the leading state for wind power east of the Mississippi, with 99 utility-grade turbines already in operation.
The machines produce 153 megawatts that provide enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes. By 2020, Young said the state is expected to have a 3,000 megawatt demand.
And there are more than 5,000 megawatts of untapped wind power in the state, with the potential to generate 45 billion kilowatt-hours annually. That’s enough to power more than 5 million homes.
Pennsylvania is an ideal home for the wind turbines, with its combination open spaces, high elevations and widespread customer base.
The project. The latest wind push is part of Gov. Rendell’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, which mandates 18 percent of electricity generated and sold in Pennsylvania in 2020 must be from a clean, renewable source.
Those options include wind power, solar power, and biofuels, Young said.
“This project to bring alternative energy to the grassroots level will propel the emerging markets even further,” Rendell said.
What to look for. The modern turbines will sit atop towers at least 35 feet tall and will generate 1.8 kilowatts of electricity each, enough to meet the needs of a typical home.
The residential-scale turbines will tie into local grids, so any excess power generated can be sold to the power company.
The Skystream 3.7 units, which Young describes as “sleek and ultra-modern with S-shaped blades,” are valued at $10,000 each.
Hotbed. Earlier this year, the world’s second-largest wind energy company in the world built its North American headquarters in Pennsylvania.
The company, Gamesa Corp., also built manufacturing facilities in Bucks and Cambria counties.
Bucks County was one of the 15 to receive the wind turbine grant. Others were Bradford, Clearfield, Elk, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Monroe, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill and Somerset.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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Former staff reporter Andrea Zippay wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2001 to 2009.

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