DECATUR Grasping for the wind may not be vanity in the
case of a group of local residents with plans to harness the wind's
power and convert it into energy for the region. And that's exactly
what the Red Barn Wind Project and Winds of Change plan to do
on the hills between Gentry and Decatur.
A ribbon cutting was held Monday on the site of the Red Barn
Wind Project's Triton Sonic Wind Profiler to kick off the wind re
search necessary to place large wind turbines - eight to 12 of them
- in the area of Y-City and Browning Roads.
The solar-powered wind profiler, measures wind flows and
speeds from ground level up to 200 meters - over 600 feet - by
sending out acoustic pulses and recording return signals. The de
vice, according to the Triton Web site, provides more detailed read
ings through the entire rotor-blade sweep of a large wind turbine.
Conventional anemometers mounted on 60-meter towers can only
measure the wind speeds in a portion of the rotor-blade sweep area.
The goal of the measurements is to soon construct eight to 12
wind turbines capable of supplying more than 8,000 megawatt
hours per turbine each year, according to Nathan Wilson, founder
and manager of Winds of Change Leaseholding. That's more elec
tricity than used in Decatur and Gentry each year, Wilson said. In
terms of average home use, the turbines could power as many as
8,000 homes per year.
But rather than obtain funding from foreign investors - as is the
case in numerous large wind farm projects - Wilson would like to
see local residents and businesses fund the project and reap the prof
its. He said the potential profits are too great to turn them over to
outside investors and foreign governments like China.
"Instead of making this a corporate wind farm, we're making this
a community wind project," Wilson said. "Within 10 years, the
landowners (local investors and property owners) will own 85 per
cent of the project," Wilson said.
The Red Barn Wind Project was conceived when Wilson came to
speak to with Frank Severn about the possibility of a smaller turbine
to power his own farm operations, but after talking with Frank and
his neighbors, Wilson proposed the idea of a much bigger project
with large turbines.
"Frank thought it was an ex
cellent idea," Wilson said.
"His neighbors came over, and
we go started." Currently, on the board for
the project are Frank Severn,
George Severn, Willie Faddis,
Marlene Lockhart, Jimmy
Roberts, Clyde Truitt and
With SWEPCO transmis
sion lines crossing the proper
ties and wind maps indicating
steady wind speeds needed to
generate energy, the location
appears ideal for the turbines.
Preliminary readings from the
wind profiler indicate the
same, Wilson said, with steady
winds at seven kilometers per
second at 80 meters aloft allweekend long. The wind profiler will measure wind velocity and wind direction for a year to be sure the site is suitable for the project.
SWEPCO, Empire District Electric and Carroll Electric are interested in the project, Wilson said. The turbines could provide supplemental electricity and make it possible for gas-powered generators to cut back on supplemental generation.
The limited liability corporation has applied for a grant to fund 25 percent of the development fee - $40 to $45,000 - Wilson said. He said the group hopes to be putting up turbines by the end
of 2010 to be eligible for an
investment tax credit which
can be converted into a grant
for 30 percent of the costs -
or $12 million.
Should all go as planned,
the wind project would have a
positive impact on the area
economy as well, Wilson
said, mentioning the need for
hotels and restaurants for
Also speaking on behalf of
the project Monday were
Ellen McNulty, the Arkansas
Outreach Coordinator of the
National Wildlife Federation,
and Benton Anderson, who
worked with the wind turbine
at Dunbar Garden in Little
News, Pages 1, 2 on 08/12/2009