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— The transmission infrastructure already exists for a proposed wind farm in western Benton County, which means its Kansas-based developers shouldn’t have a problem shipping energy generated there, according to the project’s developer.

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens ditched plans for a 687-turbine wind farm in Texas because there weren’t enough transmission lines to get the power from the state’s panhandle to potential buyers.

That won’t be a problem if TradeWind Energy decides to build what it’s calling the Honey Creek Wind Project, said Aaron Wiegel, the project’s developer.

“He was speculative in his transmission options and that came back to bite him,” Wiegel said of Pickens’ plan to build and finance the transmission lines himself. The plan was crippled when the marketcrashed, Wiegel said.

The company is set to complete the first half of a two-year data study to determine whether the area has enough wind to make Honey Creek, near Maysville, viable.

Wiegel had said in the past thatpreliminaryresultslooked promising and the company is considering other Arkansas locations to develop.

Transmission lines will be a concern as the country fills a demand for more renewable energy, said Peter Main, spokesman for Southwest Electric Power Co.

“One of the major challenges right now is to build enough transmission (lines) to get renewable energy from the places where it’s generated,” he said. “The best wind sources tend to be outside major population areas.”

The Arkansas Public Service Commission established an initiative last year to analyze the state’s transmission lines to find troubled areas and identify lines that are constrained, said Paul Suskie, the commission’s chairman.

“We want to make sure we have reliable, robust transmission systems so rate payers get low-rate generation,” he said.

The commission also anticipates the federal government will mandate the state use of renewable energy and it wants to be prepared for any rules that may be put into place, he said.

The Southwest Power Pool, which monitors transmission lines in nine states, including northern portions of Arkansas, is focusing on upgrading systems it oversees.

It has approved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of upgrade projects and new higher voltage lines that are set to be completed in the next several years, said Emily Pennel, the organization’s communications manager.

News, Pages 12 on 10/28/2009

Print Headline: Honey Creek Wind Turbine Power Project Two Year Data Study Nearly Half Completed

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