I&M to test wind in Indiana as possible new energy source

I&M to test wind in Indiana as possible new energy source

Indiana Michigan Power has a range of energy sources ”” coal, nuclear power, hydroelectric power.

Eventually, wind could be added to the list.

I&M announced Wednesday that it would place meteorological test sites in east-central Indiana to explore the economic and technical feasibility of building a wind farm in the area.

This is the first time for I&M to do any wind testing in Indiana, said David Mayne, spokesman for I&M.

”This would expand the portfolio of generating sources,” Mayne said.

Wind in Indiana?

Indiana may not be the first state that comes to consumers’ minds when they’re talking about wind power.

The biggest wind farms operated by American Electric Power, parent company of I&M, are located in Texas and Oklahoma.

”Typically, you don’t think of Indiana as being a wind state,” said Mike Brian, an I&M spokesman.

But with today’s technology, it is possible to convert what wind is available here into more power, Brian said.

In fact, locally, the St. Joseph County Council recently gave the go-ahead for a wind-measuring tower south of Mishawaka. It will collect data to see if wind turbines could be a viable source of energy in the future.

Testing process

A specific test site has not been selected in east-central Indiana, Mayne said. East-central Indiana includes areas such as Jay, Randolph and Wayne counties.

I&M will locate two or three 200-foot towers that will collect long-term wind data to determine the profile of wind resources in the area.

The towers will have instruments that can measure wind speed and the consistency of the wind in the area. The company will analyze whether there is sufficient wind to generate electricity economically.

Meetings will be set up in the next week or two with landowners in the area to determine where the testing site should be placed, Brian said. I&M is looking at spring 2007 before it would begin collecting data, he said.

If the tests indicate wind resources are adequate, the company would consider developing a wind farm, subject to regulatory approval, Mayne said.

If a wind farm were built, it would be located wherever the testing took place, he said. The farm could include 50 to 70 turbines, each generating 1.5 to 2 megawatts of electricity.

Benefits of wind

A wind farm would be advantageous to the state, not only because wind is a renewable resource, but because it doesn’t pollute the air.

”What it does, really, is it helps the environment,” Mayne said.

In addition to posing environmental and economic benefits, renewable sources in general can help stabilize energy resources and reduce dependence on foreign sources, said Deb Marr, associate professor of biology at Indiana University South Bend.

Overall, utilities are demonstrating an ongoing interest in pursuing renewable energy. Mayne said Indiana has the skills and resources necessary to develop such energy sources.

And ”I&M is very proud to be exploring the possibility of wind,” he said.

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