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— 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

Leon Wilmoth.

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

construction crews.

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

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