GENTRY Together with area business and government leaders, as well as investors and landowner partners, local renewable energy company, Winds of Change Leaseholding, LLC, formally announced on Monday its intention to transform over 500 acres in Benton County, Arkansas into a community wind farm.
Once complete, the Red Barn Wind Project will boast eight to 12 wind turbines that will provide nearly 100,000 MWh of zero-emission electricity annually.
"Wind energy is such a unique resource - it's plentiful, it's free, and it is a nonpolluting source of energy," said Nathan Wilson, the founder and manager of Winds of Change Leaseholding, LLC, and its partner company, Winds of Change, which offer energyefficiency audits and sell, maintain and repair renewable energy systems.
"I hope that our community wind farm will serve as a model for the development of similar projects across the state," Wilson said.
Wilson called the project awin-win for the area, noting the economic potential and environmental benefits of wind energy.
On Monday Wilson cut the ribbon on its state-of-the-art Triton SODAR, a type of sonar device which will track and gather all the wind velocity and wind direction data at the site, located at a potential turbine location, for one year.
"The data we gather will help to ensure the maximum feasible performance of the Red Barn Wind Farm Project," said Wilson. "The wind maps from the Arkansas Energy Office and on-site observations indicate the site has a utility grade wind resource, so we believe the new data we're gathering will verify our previous research, giving us confidence in the future success of this project."
It is estimated that the wind farm could begin operations as early as 2011, after required independent verification processes, wind site assessments, transmission studies and environmental impact studies are complete. Wilson hopes that once the company is ready to purchase the turbines next year, he will be able to do so locally- an opportunity that may not have been possible just a few short years ago.
"Right now, Arkansas is seeing an influx of new manufacturing facilities and jobs because international leaders in the wind turbine manufacturing field like Nordex, Polymarin, LM Glasfiber, and Wind Water Technology are investing millions of dollars in our state due to the fact that we have the resources, the workers, and the desire to innovate and lead in this very profitable field," said Wilson.
Winds of Change Leaseholding, LLC, incorporated with the state of Arkansas in 2009 to form a company that would serve as a vehicle for the development phase of the Red Barn Wind Project. Established in 2007, Winds of Change is committed to helping customers find the best way to reduce their carbon footprint through their electricity usage.
"We consult with consumers of electricity to develop practices that are beneficial to the environment, sell customers renewable energy systems that transform them from consumers of electricity to producers of electricity, and we service and maintain the renewable energy systems sold," Wilson said.
News, Pages 2 on 08/12/2009