With new technology, Sunshine State is windy too

I've written here recently about how the southeastern U.S., a region generally considered wind-poor, can and is still benefiting from wind power through consumer savings on electricity bills and through new manufacturing jobs (see “Southeast sees consumer savings, jobs from wind, but tax credit extension needed,” January 10). Now a major wind project being proposed in southern Florida opens yet another front for wind power in the Southeast.

A spokesman for Missouri-based wind farm developer Wind Capital Group was recently quoted in press reports as saying the 150-MW Sugarland Wind Project in Palm Beach County could be in place and generating by the end of next year if permitting and construction stay on schedule.  The wind farm would generate enough electricity to serve 30,000 average American homes.  The Sugarland website breaks down the economic development benefits:

“- Anticipated $300 million up-front investment with a commitment to use local resources when possible
– Generation of economic activity, tax revenue and direct landowner payments for decades
– Approximately 250 jobs created during construction
– Approximately 15-20 permanent jobs for the south Florida area”

So what about the “wind-poor” part?  According to the Wind Capital Group spokesman, taller turbine towers and other technological advances are making it possible to harvest more of the wind's energy from locations previously thought to have wind speeds too low for wind farm development to be feasible.

That's good news.  There are already utility-scale wind projects in 38 states, and it would be nice to add still more.

(The Southeast's growing prominence in the wind power supply chain will be a major focus of the WINDPOWER 2012 Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for June 3-6 in Atlanta, Ga.  Atlanta is a manufacturing hub, and holds tremendous potential to play a major role in the further expansion of wind development as a source of competitive energy for America. Atlanta’s global access, innovation, and talent create an unparalleled logistics network that could prove to be an important link in the wind industry supply chain, helping to supply demand and boost the efficiency, predictability, and consistency of wind project development in the U.S.)

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