Fargo looks at wind energy again
In the future, Moorhead may not be the only city capturing the wind in the metro area. Fargo officials took another look Tuesday at whether new energy incentives and wind turbine technology can make a wind power project feasible. About a dozen ci...
In the future, Moorhead may not be the only city capturing the wind in the metro area.
Fargo officials took another look Tuesday at whether new energy incentives and wind turbine technology can make a wind power project feasible.
About a dozen city leaders heard from Windustry, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit corporation that promotes local wind energy projects. The group worked with Moorhead when it installed its first 750-kilowatt wind turbine in 1999.
"Really, what we want to do is begin a discussion about wind energy for the community of Fargo," said Lisa Daniels, executive director of Windustry.
Fargo explored wind energy a few years ago, working with the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks. A study found the city wasn't ideal for wind energy, but it could support a tower, said Bruce Grubb, enterprise director for Fargo sewer, water and solid waste.
Xcel Energy and Cass County Electric Cooperative said they would buy power from a city-owned wind turbine, but "it just didn't pencil out for us economically," Grubb said.
Instead, Cass County Electric customers in Fargo can purchase wind energy through its Infinity Wind Program. Customers pay an additional $1.50 per month for 100 kilowatt-hours of power from a wind turbine near Valley City.
About 5 percent of Moorhead Public Service customers subscribe to its "Capture the Wind" program. The average subscriber pays a premium of about $5 per month for wind power, said Kevin Bengston, MPS energy services coordinator.
The two 750-kilowatt towers in Moorhead stand 55 meters tall and operate at full capacity only 24 percent of the time.
Part of Fargo's problem has been the lack of state incentives in North Dakota, said City Commissioner Mike Williams, who invited Windustry to Tuesday's meeting of the Fargo Energy and Conservation Committee.
A new incentive in the 2005 federal energy bill could open the door to a city-sponsored wind project, Williams said.
With a strong push from Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., Congress set aside $800 million in the energy bill for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds. The bonds allows state and local governments, tribal governments and electric co-ops to issue bonds to finance renewable energy projects, including wind turbines.
Daniels agreed Tuesday to help Fargo gather updated wind data and develop a model wind project. Newer, taller wind turbines with longer, variable-pitch blades could help capture more wind in Fargo, she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528