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Power Earth United States

First Town In US To Become 100% Wind Powered 391

gundar99 writes "Rock Port Missouri, population 1,300, is the first 100% wind-powered city in the US. Loess Hill Wind Farm, with four 1.25-MW wind turbines, is estimated to generate 16 gigawatt hours (16 million kilowatt hours) of electricity annually. 13 gigawatt hours of electricity have historically been consumed annually by the residents and businesses of this town."
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First Town In US To Become 100% Wind Powered

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  • Moving Air (Score:5, Funny)

    by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:06PM (#23319396) Homepage Journal
    Would the wind turbines be more efficient if they brought a bunch of politicians into the town?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:12PM (#23319450)

      Would the wind turbines be more efficient if they brought a bunch of politicians into the town?

      Unfortunately, no. All they're blowing is hot air, so it would rise too quickly to be of any use.
    • by icejai ( 214906 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:17PM (#23319492)
      Unfortunately no.

      All the politicians out there that blow hot air all suck as well.
    • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:23PM (#23319526) Journal

      Would the wind turbines be more efficient if they brought a bunch of politicians into the town?
      It's hot air, but it's not moving very fast and there's a hell of a lot turbulence. I'm thinking politician fueled Stirling engine.

      Now, is there any place where a large number of our founding father's are buried? Because we could double our efficiency by putting the politicians over their graves and harnessing the founding father's spinning motion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Would the wind turbines be more efficient if they brought a bunch of politicians into the town?

      Only if you mounted the politicians to the blades.
  • Not Really... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:06PM (#23319398)
    Wind can't supply base load so even if the wind turbines are generating more power than the city consumes over a year, that power is being consumed partially by other cities.
    • Re:Not Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tatarize ( 682683 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:20PM (#23319512) Homepage
      Not only that but couldn't you argue that because it pours that power onto the grid it might as well be any town? It seems like somebody nearby has a wind farm and therefore that city is thusly powered by wind. Couldn't my town be completely powered by wind out of the Loess Hill Wind Farm if it takes less than 16 gigawatt hours? Local windfarm produces more than local towns power consumption? It isn't like the town owns the wind farm... it's exactly like there's a windfarm near a town!

      This is completely stupid. Well played Slashdot, well played.
      • Re:Not Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:37PM (#23319626)
        You guys are all nattering nabobs of negativity :)

        The town that you claim is powered by the wind can't be TOO far away, or line losses would eat up too much power... in any event, the claim isn't much of a stretch as the city does now produce more wind power than it consumes total power.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It's about reducing your footprint. If a town generates as much electricity (in an environmentally friendly fashion) as they consume, then their electricity usage footprint is zero. Doesn't matter who uses the actual electricity generated via wind. It's that much less the Callaway nuclear plant, or worse still, some coal plant has to generate.

        Maybe the summary overstates it a bit if you want to be anal-retentive, but this is an interesting story nonetheless. And we all know that being anal retentive jus
    • Re:Not Really... (Score:4, Informative)

      by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:05AM (#23322456)
      Exactly, a town (or a grid) doesn't need energy it needs power. It doesn't matter how many Gigawatt hours something produces it is how many watts it produces when they are needed. A grid needs a certain current and if it doesn't get it things go wrong. It doesn't matter how much energy you harvest over the fiscal year, what matters is if your generation is keeping up with your consumption in a moment to moment basis. It takes hours to shut down a coal furnace and months to shut down a nuclear reactor so until meteorology comes far enough, these things will have to keep running whenever there is supposed to be load lest the grid brown out whenever the wind calms down. Currently, when these things spin, all that happens is the load on a turbine in some power plant reduces and its energy is dissipated in a cooling tower instead. If you want something that can pick up the slack for these things, you'll have to go oil, gas or hydro. This requires burning something rare, expensive and environmentally nasty or flooding a valley somewhere which is far worse than what we're doing now with coal and nuclear.
    • Re:Not Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:45AM (#23322690) Homepage Journal
      Alternatively, you can think of it as being stored in the most highly efficient storage medium yet devised by man.

      Unburned fossil fuels.

      As long as we have significant fossil fuel generation capacity, nobody's lights are going dark when the wind slackens. And we aren't likely to hit the point where wind power generates more power than coal, natural gas and oil any time soon. In the long run we'll need to have other ways of storing and reusing energy that don't rely on fossil fuels, but if we did this sort of thing everywhere we could, the world could conserve its limited supplies of petroleum and coal and reduce its emissions of CO2 and other pollutants.

      Also, you might consider why famine is rare in developed countries. That is because our food supply is, in effect. A network with many suppliers. If beef suppliers are having mad cow problems and can't supply the market with enough beef, money flows to poultry and pork producers instead. Any individual food supplier is subject to short term shortage, the network as a whole has diverse sources of food it can draw upon.

      A geographically large superconducting grid would smooth over local variations in wind, solar, tidal and other intermittent power sources.

      The "use it or lose it" nature of some renewable power sources means that it's may be financially efficient to store any excess production, even if that storage medium is not very efficient itself. If your windmills are going full (err...) tilt in the dead of the night when power is cheap, why not use them to pump water upstream across a dam? Then you can sell that energy in the middle of the day when market prices are higher. Or you could sell an energy contract to an energy intensive factory that can run in the off-hours.

      Suppose if your photovoltaic farm is generating power in the middle of the winter, why not put it into a reversible chemical reactor that converts it back into electricity during the summer to run people's air conditioning?

      A superconducting grid itself could be a short term storage mechanism; you could pump liquid hydrogen in when demand is low, and extract it when demand is higher.

      I see no real short term or long term barriers to the utility of renewable energy as a way of reducing pollution and reliance on politically unstable regimes overseas. The midterm -- well that could get economically tricky. But then, declining oil production will be even more tricky.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kesuki ( 321456 )
        You really really should consider Algae production as a viable solar energy source, for both vehicles, and electric production. they say algae ponds the size of the state of Maryland could replace all our reliance on oil, but what they forget to mention, is that you only get about 30% of the energy in the plant as extracted algae oil... the rest is STILL usable as an energy source, it can either be converted to ethanol (it's not cellulose, because algae are a simple water organism, not a thick gravity defyi
  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:08PM (#23319412)
    I did not RTFA, but there is no need to. Wind is great, but it does not blow 100% of the time in an area the size of a town/city. Therefore they are relying on other power sources some of the time.

    They might be a net generator of power, but they are ultimately using other power sources some of the time.

    • it does blow more of the up high where turbines are.
    • by Marcika ( 1003625 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:14PM (#23319470)
      They could be relying solely on wind power -- it's perfectly possible using pumped storage [wikipedia.org].
      (They aren't though, so your point of needing other auxiliary sources of energy still stands.)
      • by ductonius ( 705942 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:35AM (#23320640) Homepage
        The only flaw in that cunning plan is that the best terrain for wind power is open, flat country where the wind blows constantly while the best terrain for pumped storage is rocky, mountainous areas where the earth forms natural basins.

        There are few places in the world where terrain suitable for both wind and pumped storage occurs close together.

        Most wind power stations will have to rely on gas-turbine backups, which is to say building a wind power station means building both a wind power station and a gas-turbine power station.

        Umm...go nuclear?
      • by Dr. Cody ( 554864 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:37AM (#23323164)
        Pumped storage is not without problems--environmental, that is.

        Many resevoirs are designed to operate at a constant level ("head" for us, the difference in height between the surface and the exit of the turbine). Of course a drought could push you out of wack if this is your regulation goal, but, in general, you're going to be sticking to pretty much the same level, and, as a consequence, coast.

        With resevoirs which vary according to demand, there can be large head changes over the year and with different demand patterns (and rainfall)--which translate into DRAMATIC changes in the coastline of the resevoir. As you know, the vegetation and soil developement is most at the coast line. When all of this living matter is suddenly put under four meters of water, it dies and is replaced with anerobic systems. This decay produces hydrogen sulphide (generally nasty) and methane (a greenhouse gas IIRC 400x stronger than CO2). This is the origin of concerns about how much greenhouse gas production that hydropower offsets.

        Then, when the water level dives down, you kill the anaerobic systems, leaving a barren coastline (both just above and just below the waterline at the coast) which is less hospitable to fish and terrestrial animals whose life is based around this environment.

        Up in Sweden, where we have considerable such resevoir regulation, which results in lakes banked by bleached stone for many km in each direction. It has also completely changed the distribution of fishlife in these valleys.
    • It's a short article, FP isn't all it's cracked up to be:

      "What we're celebrating is that the wind farm in Rock Port can produce more energy each year than what this community uses, and that has never been done before," Chamberlain said.

      And that's why everyone showed up. From the celebration and speeches downtown to the city's power plant, the guy who made it all happen explained what it is all about.

      "What we're showing here is the city is producing 2 megawatts more than they need, so in essence, this meter is running backwards," Chamberlain said.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:20PM (#23319514)
      If you draw a box around a year and this town and measure the inputs and outputs, the town is a net producer of electricity, assuming their forcast of consumption holds true. Ergo, by Jedi logic, they are 100% wind powered. Your commentary on the matter elegantly illustrates the difference between erudite and pedantic for the rest of us. Thank you, not everyone could have done so as gracefully.
    • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:26PM (#23319562) Journal

      I knew there would be a post like this. This always comes up when people discuss wind and solar. First, if they were not on the grid they could use "peak storage". There are a number of ways to do that. In areas where water and elevation are available, you can pump water back up a hill into a holding pond and re-cycle it through a turbine--augmented hydro power. Other methods of peak storage include: flywheels, batteries, and even compressed air pumped into abandoned mines that have been properly sealed to hold in the pressure. Choice of method depends on a variety of factors of course.

      Now, since they are connected to the grid, the peak storage issue isn't very important. They just feed the grid when they have excess, and draw from the grid when they don't. Therefore, they are actually *over* 100% since they are expected to feed the grid more often than they draw from it. If everybody did what they did, then peak storage would be required because it is possible for calm conditions to persist over fairly wide areas--perhaps wide enough to make transmission impractical. The only difference here is that they are using the grid as a virtual peak storage system.

      When wind power is sent to "town B", they can idle one of their fossil-fuel generators. The fuel un-burned by said generator is another way to account for peak storage.

      Using the grid as peak storage just makes better econonmic sense than building your own peak storage and declaring independance like some kind of cult or something.

      Wind power has other issues though, mostly aesthetic.

      • They just feed the grid when they have excess, and draw from the grid when they don't. Therefore, they are actually *over* 100% since they are expected to feed the grid more often than they draw from it.

        Right, but the problem of double-counting remains. There are some utilities in the country that sell "green" energy for a premium, direct to consumers. They claim that this represents energy sourced from wind and solar, anywhere in their network. If 10,000 consumers outside the town claim to be buying win
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by caviare ( 830421 )
        Theoretically they could use peak storage, but understand this: they don't. Until they do they are not 100% wind powered. All of the storage technologies you mention are either prohibitively expensive or don't have the capacity to cope with lulls in the wind for days or weeks at a time. Outside a few small mountainous countries with heaps of hydro such as New Zealand, we are all dependent on fossil fuel or nuclear at least part of the time.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by shermo ( 1284310 )
          New Zealand still sources 30-40% of it's energy from thermal (gas/coal). In addition, New Zealand has water storage capabilities of a few weeks to months, so it's very possible to run low, and as such requires additional thermal capabilities to compensate. Norway is closer to 100% hydro.
        • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:06AM (#23320484)

          Outside a few small mountainous countries with heaps of hydro such as New Zealand, we are all dependent on fossil fuel or nuclear at least part of the time.

          Isn't Iceland almost entirely geothermal?

      • by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:26PM (#23319908) Homepage Journal
        Well, not quite on the variability in the US at least. Connecting geographically spreadout wind farms yields at least one third of the power as steady and, if I recall, closer to 60% when most of the wind belt is connected. http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2007/december5/windfarm-120507.html [stanford.edu]

        This lowers the cost of transmission because the largest transmission lines can be used 100% of the time at full capacity.
      • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @03:13AM (#23321230) Journal
        There's a reason it always comes up, and namely because it actually matters.

        Yes, they _could_ use peak storage, but they don't. They're on the grid. It does matter.

        So they produce 5 MW all the time (wind non-stop). If yearly production is barely above their yearly usage, let's say they use, say, 8 MW peak and buggerall at night. So someone else has to build the extra capacity to produce the extra 3 MW for them.

        But wait, they may have a calm day, or a _storm_. During storms you don't make more power, you align the blades so the turbine doesn't spin. So someone else has to have the capacity to produce an extra 8 MW for them, for those cases.

        The point is that someone still has to be able to cover the peak power, so just as many power plants have to be built as before. Only now you have to keep some of them idle at peak time, so you don't recoup your investment as quickly.

        The total power produced maths are also a bit mis-leading. They use more power at peak, they give some power back when noone needs it. The problem isn't producing enough energy at 1 AM, the problem is producing enough energy at peak times. That's when those brownouts some years ago happened. The rush to build more power plants, and dealing with NIMBY syndrome, is to be able to supply the whole use at peak hours, not at night.

        Because wind can and will occasionally fail you, someone has to build the same capacity again as some other kind of power. Only, again, keep it idle a bunch of the time so they won't get their money back as fast.

        Essentially, they just passed someone else the cost of building the peak storage for them. They get their peak storage (and more importantly: backup power) all right, only now "Town B" from your example is the one who gets the bill for it.

        Now I'm not saying it should be a hanging offense or anything, but it _is_ a problem worth mentioning. If you want to willy-wave about being all green, then actually be all green on your own money.

        Otherwise it's a bit like Liechtenstein not having an army or military budget, because their big neighbours get to deal with defending it. Or about how they do great with a lean government and low taxes... by being a tax heaven for guys who made their riches in other countries' economies. It's just passing the bill to someone else, not being the perfect example of a smart conservative government.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The point is that someone still has to be able to cover the peak power, so just as many power plants have to be built as before. Only now you have to keep some of them idle at peak time, so you don't recoup your investment as quickly.

          Why do 'just as many' power plants have to be built if more communities can supply a greater percentage (perhaps greater than 100%, perhaps less) of their peak-time-load themselves ?

          Wouldn't *fewer* power plants would have to be built - as noted, the system still has to handle
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Domino2020 ( 1274466 )
      Ever heard of a battery?
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:14PM (#23319468)
    Washington has been run on pure hot air for decades.
  • big catch (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There's one big catch to this: the town isn't 100% wind powered. Instead, it produces more energy from wind power than it uses each year. Wind speed changes, and people use different amounts of electricity at different times, so a significant part of the town's electricity will still come from conventional generation through the grid.

    Wind power is nice, but the rule of thumb for wind power is that it doesn't actually replace any conventional generating capacity, it merely reduces the utilization at times. S
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cobaltnova ( 1188515 )
      I sure hope you aren't saying this as an argument against wind. Every little bit counts in this energy battle: a mature approach will tap many different sources of power. Also, if there is a suruplus at some times, then energetically intensive industrial operations can be scheduled for those times (for instance, aluminum refining).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Also, if there is a suruplus at some times, then energetically intensive industrial operations can be scheduled for those times (for instance, aluminum refining).

        Not if you need guaranteed availability for a period of hours - imagine that you have the furnace almost up to temperature and the power gets cut, that would be a massive waste of energy. Also, you talk of scheduling as if we can forecast wind speed days in advance - you can't of course. Which all means that for practically all industrial applicati
    • To actually replace anything with wind, you'd need a tremendous overcapacity that was sufficiently distributed geographically to ensure that enough of it got wind all the time to meet your total power needs.

      There are these magical things called batteries, that store energy when your not using it and allow you to use it latter, so you can get rid of the conventional capacity. Over something the size of the american grid (is it all o the same grid?), you could probably get away with just a days storage

  • by joshamania ( 32599 ) <jggramlich@yaho o . com> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:26PM (#23319550) Homepage
    I'm not sure what the metric is exactly, but it has to do with something like, megawatt-hours-produced-per-acre. This measurement is used when discussing power production by some engineering geeks somewhere...sorry, just trying to point the discussion down a path quickly here and not really set it up too much. :-)

    In short, as cool as we all would like wind power generation to be, it just falls way too short in the aforemention critical statistic. If you've seen the wind farm outside of San Fran, you know how big they can get. The nuke plant between SD & LA (iirc) is but a postage stamp compared to that windfarm and it probably has about twice the power output.

    Wind is not population density friendly. At some point, land costs wipe out any efficiencies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ijustam ( 1127015 )
      The pillar that the turbine is mounted to doesn't take up that much room. I imagine a company would pay a farmer to give them a small chunk (probably 0.01 acres) of land for a turbine. If low-altitude (0-500ft~) sky were prime real-estate then we'd have problems, but luckily no one really wants to build anything there.
      • Think Japan. Maritime traffic at sea and real estate costs inland would make deploying large numbers of wind turbines a poor choice. A dozen 100 acre nuclear plants would produce the same power as many hundreds of wind turbines...the largest of which do take up considerable space around them, it's not just a footprint.
        • A for instance:

          The largest wind turbines weigh many tons....the structures that hold them many more. You cannot just plop one of these onto any spot of empty dirt you see. A considerable foundation must be poured of reinforced concreted, which may have to be anchored to bedrock, but IANACE (...civil engineer...). You dont want to have the thing sink or god forbid shift and fall. Even still you couldn't put them denser than the falling distance from one to another or a slight engineering snafu turns your
          • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:33AM (#23320632)

            I'm not a civil engineer either, but I am training to become one. I think you're worrying way too much here. Yes, you need a reasonable foundation for the thing, but then you can put soil for farming on top of that.

            But even that is overthinking the issue; just look at this picture [wikipedia.org]. See the space each turbine tower takes up? Now see the space between towers? Is the former significant compared to the latter? No. Are they, in fact, growing some kind of crops between the towers? Yes. If this weren't true, the picture wouldn't exist!

            Even still you couldn't put them denser than the falling distance from one to another or a slight engineering snafu turns your billion dollar windfarm into the worlds most expensive set of dominos.

            You don't want to put them close together anyway, because

            1. the turbine needs to rotate (in the X-Y plane) so that it's always facing the wind and you don't want blades of adjacent turbines to hit each other, and
            2. if they're too close behind each other, the wake turbulence from the turbine in front reduces the efficiency of the turbine behind.
            Oh, and by the way: assuming you arrange the turbines in a square grid, they would have to fall in one of the four cardinal directions to risk creating "the world's most expensive set of dominos." If we assume that the zone where this would happen takes up 1 degree of arc for each direction, there's a (4/360) ~= 1% chance of that happening, assuming a tower fell over in the first place. I'd call that negligible risk.
          • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @02:21AM (#23321086)

            A considerable foundation must be poured of reinforced concreted, which may have to be anchored to bedrock, but IANACE (...civil engineer...).
            Denmark is known for its wind turbines. I can guarantee you that there isn't any bedrock involved. Also, some of the turbines are in swamps or otherwise barely-arable land. Foundations are a solved problem, you CAN build a castle in a swamp these days.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a windfarm on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the best windfarm in all of Denmark.
        • Where possible, this can and does work:

          http://www.capewind.org/ [capewind.org]

          Cape Wind is proposing America's first offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. Miles from the nearest shore, 130 wind turbines will gracefully harness the wind to produce up to 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. In average winds, Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the Cape and Islands electricity needs.

          You'll note from the project's FAQ that the farm is miles from shore and does not impede on shipping lanes. Also note the power generation (up to 420MW).

          How far apart will the wind turbines be spaced on Horseshoe Shoal?

          The wind turbines will be arrayed in a grid pattern of parallel rows. Within a row, the wind turbines will be .34 nautical miles apart (about 6 football fields), the rows will be .54 nautical miles apart (about 9 football fields).

          That's not chump change with regards to ocean acreage usage. But that's the best part. There's lots of ocean out there. And while nuclear energy is a great choice for base load, wind can definitely pick up the slack.

          • 130 turbines... (Score:3, Informative)

            by tlambert ( 566799 )
            Which, assuming high winds, will provide about 1/3 the power output of one of the Diablo Canyon reactors. Their own estimates are closer to 1/6 that load on average. That works out to being able to supply power for about 180,000 people (Diablo Canyon's two reactors supply for about 2.2 million homes).

            To put this in perspective, all the wind power generating capacity currently deployed in California is about 3/4 of one reactor at Diablo Canyon, and that's assuming the wind is blowing constantly at the aver
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dutch Gun ( 899105 )

        The pillar that the turbine is mounted to doesn't take up that much room. I imagine a company would pay a farmer to give them a small chunk (probably 0.01 acres) of land for a turbine. If low-altitude (0-500ft~) sky were prime real-estate then we'd have problems, but luckily no one really wants to build anything there.

        Because, it's not like low-flying planes have to criss-cross all over those farmers' fields to apply various pesticides and herbicides or anything.

        I'm not saying that it's a bad idea necessarily (this sort of thing should definitely be explored and encouraged), but nothing is ever as simple as it seems when that mental light bulb first turns on.

    • I'm not anti-nuke. With all of the desalination we'll need to do in the future, it really makes the most sense. However ocean based wind farms are a great idea and we really ought to pursue that too, since land cost is well, rather irrelevant, as is noise.

      There's a great offshore wind project in the Netherlands [planetark.com] we would be well served to emulate. California is between a rock and a hard place since they're net power importers and (due to smog regs) the only conventional power plants they can build are na
    • Uh, lol, I just actually RTFA and, uh, does that say that wind farm cost $70,000 per person it provides power for? Or was it $35,000 per person?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      Wind is not population density friendly.
      Perhaps that says more about our population density than it says about wind.

      The earth has managed to power every population that has been on it so far. Now, a population exists where the Earth's current resources can't meet their needs.
  • Rock Port was certainly not the first town in the United States.
  • wha...? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Takichi ( 1053302 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:28PM (#23319576)
    Ow. My brain hurts after trying to read that article. Did someone randomly select quotes and comments from a bag? Here's a better written version, though still light on the information (no figures for cost per kWh) http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1568/ [ecogeek.org]
  • More questions (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:30PM (#23319584) Journal
    The article sucked. Are the turbines really powering the town, or is that going into the grid in general? The article mentions that the power won't be free, but that the mayor hopes it will cost less because of lower transmission fees. So how much does it cost? The article mentions the landowner that set the thing up. So is it privately owned, or part of the city? Does the city actually buy electricity from this guy, or does he just make money selling to the power companies? What the heck does John Deere have to do with anything?
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      Of course the power isn't free. It is being generated by wind turbines not handed down by God directly to peoples houses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by llefler ( 184847 )
      I agree it was a bad article. I think they should grab a journalism student from a nearby university (MU) to fix it for them.

      I can answer some questions from the research I have done, and can give an educated guess on the others.

      Are the turbines really powering the town, or is that going into the grid in general?

      The turbines are connected directly to the city's high voltage line, which is in turn connected to external generation. IE. the grid. The 4 turbines for the city (Loess Hills) are on a ridge on t
  • Congratulations! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:32PM (#23319598)
    Good to see that even though the country may be fumbling and lagging behind where it should be from an environmental point of view, individuals and sections of the community are taking up the slack and forging ahead.
  • What are they using as their hot backup supply? If they were truly 100% wind they'd have to put up with regular brownouts.
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      They are plugged into the grid.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bledri ( 1283728 )

      They are connected to the power grid, just like every other city. When the wind turbines fall below local needs, they consume power from the grid. When the turbines generate more power than the town needs, they pump power into the grid for others to use.

      They appear to be a net producer, which seems to be a good thing.

  • by MarkEst1973 ( 769601 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:05PM (#23319770)

    At $0.11 on average per kWh, the savings is $1.7m annually, plus another $300k from the energy they sell to the power company. That's 45 years to recoup the investment ($90m), not including maintaining the turbines for 45 years (more info here [ecogeek.org])

    Still, I think this should be the new standard for sustainable living and development.

    And to put 16 gigawatt hours into perspective... the average household in America uses around 11,000 kWh annually. See Official Government Website [doe.gov]

    Rock Port, MO needs to add their watts saved [whosavedwatt.com] to the total. It's like they switched out 64,000,000 incandescent bulbs for CFCs!

    • Just wait until coal companies have to tack a carbon tax onto each kwH they sell (similar to the decommissioning fee tacked onto each kwH for nuclear power plants). Wind/solar become more competitive as that occurs.
  • Aren't the old windmill pumps still around? Can they devise some kind of generator that could use the spare turns from them into a little bit of electricity? I think some of those things have been around for quite a long time...
  • Other Costs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:12AM (#23322898) Homepage
    While alternative energy is expensive, I have to wonder what happens to conventional energy costs when you start factoring in trillion dollar wars to keep the fuel sources available. Imagine how many solar panels, hydro plants and wind turbines could have been purchased with one iraq?

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!