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— The Red Barn Wind Project’s Triton Sonic Wind Profiler has been measuring wind speeds above a field near Browning Road since August, and the results are better than expected, according to Nathan Wilson, founder and manager of Winds of Change Leaseholding LLC.

Along with local landowners, Wilson plans to install eight commercial wind turbines in a 560-acre area between Decatur and Gentry. Each turbine will be capable of supplying more than 8,000 megawatt hours a year. According to wind maps, the area is one of the windiest in Arkansas.

The Triton Sonic Wind Profiler was installed at the lowest elevation that one of the turbines will be located. It will measure wind velocity and direction for a year to make sure the site is suitable for the project.

The device measures wind speeds from ground level up to 600 feet by sending out acoustic pulses and recording their return signal. It measures the wind in a cone-shaped area directly above it, which is very useful because wind speeds on the ground don’t always reflect wind speeds aloft, Wilson explained.

Commercial wind turbines will start turning with a wind speedof seven miles per hour, but they need long-term average wind speeds of 14.5 to 15 miles per hour to produce a good supply of electricity, he said.

Wilson describes the enterprise as a community wind farm. Landowners and local investors will be funding the project and reaping the benefits. After 10 years, landowners will own 85 percent of the turbines, Wilson said.

In addition to the 560 acres the wind farm will be located on, Wilson is looking to lease surrounding land. Wind turbines don’t take away from the use of the land but provide farmers with another source of income, he explained.

This is a great time to build wind turbines because materials are less expensive than they havebeen in several years. Winds of Change has also been selected for a government grant that will pay 30 percent of the costs.

With wind energy, there is no need to send money to Wyoming to buy coal to produce electricity. Instead, investors and landowners get all of the profits. Wind energy also provides a cheaper supply of electricity, and the cost is more stable because it is not dependent on the price of coal and natural gas, Wilson said. It also provides a clean source of energy that reduces pollution and greenhouse gases.

Wilson said his next step is to focus on financing. The company just started a public securities offering with 36 shares available to local investors, he said.

Wilson plans to order the windturbines no later than December 2010 and install them by the spring of 2011. According to his Web site, www.windsofchangeit.com, Wilson plans to have the project online by August 2011.

In the meantime, the wind analysis will continue along with environmental and transmission studies. Transmission lines already run across the property, and there is a substation nearby.

Wilson just opened an office in a repurposed home at the intersection of Y-City Road and Browning Road. He also sells smaller wind turbines to power homes or farms and does home energy audits to help residents find ways to conserve energy.

For more information on the project, visit Wilson’s Web site, www.windsofchangeit.com.

News, Pages 3 on 12/30/2009

Print Headline: Wind Project headed in right direction

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