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First Town In US To Become 100% Wind Powered

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the can't-get-much-greener dept.

Power 391

gundar99 writes "Rock Port Missouri, population 1,300, is the first 100% wind-powered city in the US. Loess Hill Wind Farm, with four 1.25-MW wind turbines, is estimated to generate 16 gigawatt hours (16 million kilowatt hours) of electricity annually. 13 gigawatt hours of electricity have historically been consumed annually by the residents and businesses of this town."

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391 comments

Moving Air (5, Funny)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319396)

Would the wind turbines be more efficient if they brought a bunch of politicians into the town?

Re:Moving Air (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319450)

Would the wind turbines be more efficient if they brought a bunch of politicians into the town?


Unfortunately, no. All they're blowing is hot air, so it would rise too quickly to be of any use.

Re:Moving Air (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319466)

No. It's low density by virtue of it's high temperature.

Re:Moving Air (4, Funny)

icejai (214906) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319492)

Unfortunately no.

All the politicians out there that blow hot air all suck as well.

You want a heat converter (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319526)

Would the wind turbines be more efficient if they brought a bunch of politicians into the town?
It's hot air, but it's not moving very fast and there's a hell of a lot turbulence. I'm thinking politician fueled Stirling engine.

Now, is there any place where a large number of our founding father's are buried? Because we could double our efficiency by putting the politicians over their graves and harnessing the founding father's spinning motion.

Not Really... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319398)

Wind can't supply base load so even if the wind turbines are generating more power than the city consumes over a year, that power is being consumed partially by other cities.

Re:Not Really... (4, Insightful)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319512)

Not only that but couldn't you argue that because it pours that power onto the grid it might as well be any town? It seems like somebody nearby has a wind farm and therefore that city is thusly powered by wind. Couldn't my town be completely powered by wind out of the Loess Hill Wind Farm if it takes less than 16 gigawatt hours? Local windfarm produces more than local towns power consumption? It isn't like the town owns the wind farm... it's exactly like there's a windfarm near a town!

This is completely stupid. Well played Slashdot, well played.

Re:Not Really... (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319626)

You guys are all nattering nabobs of negativity :)

The town that you claim is powered by the wind can't be TOO far away, or line losses would eat up too much power... in any event, the claim isn't much of a stretch as the city does now produce more wind power than it consumes total power.

Re:Not Really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23320078)

Which means, of course, that less power is being generated by other means elsewhere.

Re:Not Really... (0, Offtopic)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319756)

it might as well be any town?

makes me wonder, if I were to give money into the local electric company's GreenWatts [greenwatts.com] program would I get to claim the "karma" for their green energy, or does their town get the karma (assuming they are signed up for something similar, and why wouldn't they?) or is their enough "karma" to be gained we all get to claim it?

SP3 !! And (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319400)

Eat my shorts slashdot !!

1.51 Gigawatts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319408)

They only need to produce 1.51 Gigawatts to travel in time, so I think they're really wasting energy here.

Wind can't do it. (5, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319546)

I'm sorry. But the only power source capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of electricity is a bolt of lightning. And unfortunately, we never know when or where they are going to strike.

Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319412)

I did not RTFA, but there is no need to. Wind is great, but it does not blow 100% of the time in an area the size of a town/city. Therefore they are relying on other power sources some of the time.

They might be a net generator of power, but they are ultimately using other power sources some of the time.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (5, Informative)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319470)

They could be relying solely on wind power -- it's perfectly possible using pumped storage [wikipedia.org] .
(They aren't though, so your point of needing other auxiliary sources of energy still stands.)

Perhaps you should have read the article (5, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319498)

It's a short article, FP isn't all it's cracked up to be:

"What we're celebrating is that the wind farm in Rock Port can produce more energy each year than what this community uses, and that has never been done before," Chamberlain said.

And that's why everyone showed up. From the celebration and speeches downtown to the city's power plant, the guy who made it all happen explained what it is all about.

"What we're showing here is the city is producing 2 megawatts more than they need, so in essence, this meter is running backwards," Chamberlain said.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319514)

If you draw a box around a year and this town and measure the inputs and outputs, the town is a net producer of electricity, assuming their forcast of consumption holds true. Ergo, by Jedi logic, they are 100% wind powered. Your commentary on the matter elegantly illustrates the difference between erudite and pedantic for the rest of us. Thank you, not everyone could have done so as gracefully.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (-1, Offtopic)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319870)

You see, kids? This is why you don't automatically mod down AC posts. They usually win the thread.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319542)

Perhaps they have batteries that store what they don't use and get them through the rough spots? Even if they don't, I'm it's a future possibility.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (5, Informative)

istartedi (132515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319562)

I knew there would be a post like this. This always comes up when people discuss wind and solar. First, if they were not on the grid they could use "peak storage". There are a number of ways to do that. In areas where water and elevation are available, you can pump water back up a hill into a holding pond and re-cycle it through a turbine--augmented hydro power. Other methods of peak storage include: flywheels, batteries, and even compressed air pumped into abandoned mines that have been properly sealed to hold in the pressure. Choice of method depends on a variety of factors of course.

Now, since they are connected to the grid, the peak storage issue isn't very important. They just feed the grid when they have excess, and draw from the grid when they don't. Therefore, they are actually *over* 100% since they are expected to feed the grid more often than they draw from it. If everybody did what they did, then peak storage would be required because it is possible for calm conditions to persist over fairly wide areas--perhaps wide enough to make transmission impractical. The only difference here is that they are using the grid as a virtual peak storage system.

When wind power is sent to "town B", they can idle one of their fossil-fuel generators. The fuel un-burned by said generator is another way to account for peak storage.

Using the grid as peak storage just makes better econonmic sense than building your own peak storage and declaring independance like some kind of cult or something.

Wind power has other issues though, mostly aesthetic.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319628)

Fossil fuel plants don't just casually idle.

Gas turbines can relatively easily compared to coal and oil, but it isn't something that anybody is happy about, all their capital is just sitting there not earning any money when it is idle.

Re:Fossil plants sitting idle (2, Interesting)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319838)

isn't something that anybody is happy about,

I disagree, Talked to a nuclear plant engineer working at a plant with a gas turbine auxiliary plant. They are thrilled when the turbine powers up, because they get paid more for that energy because their willing to fill peak demand. If that plant was put into constant production they would get paid the same rate as the nuclear plant, so reduced joy overall.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (2, Interesting)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319876)

They have the option of idling down some, but they dont have to... they can keep on pumping out as much juice as they want to, if nowhere in the US is using the power...it'l tricle (up) to Canada, or down to Mexico...or whatever...

When the wind isn't blowing, they'l have to pick up the slack to make up for the loss... and when it is, they might be able to use that time for maintenance, etc.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (2, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319992)

At large scales steam still wins and the fuel consumption can be scaled back a lot when power is not needed. Gas turbines only become viable at small scales but it is true that they can come up to speed almost as quickly as hydro so can be completely turned off when they are not needed. Quite a few are very cheap since they are made out of second hand jet engines - some from 1950's jets are still in service as backup generators!

Anyway the article was about wind. The big problems there are small unit sizes and short times between maintainance. A mixture of power sources is a good idea anyway. Anyone that talks about a single true energy source is either selling something or has been tricked by salesfolk.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319762)

They just feed the grid when they have excess, and draw from the grid when they don't. Therefore, they are actually *over* 100% since they are expected to feed the grid more often than they draw from it.

Right, but the problem of double-counting remains. There are some utilities in the country that sell "green" energy for a premium, direct to consumers. They claim that this represents energy sourced from wind and solar, anywhere in their network. If 10,000 consumers outside the town claim to be buying wind power, and the 10,000 people in the town also claim to be, then we've got double-counting. Same thing if another 10,000 claim to have bought the TerraPass carbon credits that went to build the plant. You've got to figure out who gets to claim the credit.

It's not a problem with "green" power in any way. In fact, it's great that so many people want it. It's just a standard we have to decide.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (2, Informative)

caviare (830421) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319776)

Theoretically they could use peak storage, but understand this: they don't. Until they do they are not 100% wind powered. All of the storage technologies you mention are either prohibitively expensive or don't have the capacity to cope with lulls in the wind for days or weeks at a time. Outside a few small mountainous countries with heaps of hydro such as New Zealand, we are all dependent on fossil fuel or nuclear at least part of the time.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (3, Informative)

shermo (1284310) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319852)

New Zealand still sources 30-40% of it's energy from thermal (gas/coal). In addition, New Zealand has water storage capabilities of a few weeks to months, so it's very possible to run low, and as such requires additional thermal capabilities to compensate. Norway is closer to 100% hydro.

Re:Unless they're off the grid it isn't 100% (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319908)

Well, not quite on the variability in the US at least. Connecting geographically spreadout wind farms yields at least one third of the power as steady and, if I recall, closer to 60% when most of the wind belt is connected. http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2007/december5/windfarm-120507.html [stanford.edu]

This lowers the cost of transmission because the largest transmission lines can be used 100% of the time at full capacity.

SECOND TOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319416)

DC was first!

Re:SECOND TOWN! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319614)

DC was first!
Damnit, zombie Edison, you lost. Get over it!

--The ghost of Nikola Tesla

Where does the energy come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319434)

Is this slowing the earth's orbit, changing its rotational velocity, or what? Please don't tell me there's a 9-volt battery hidden under that cover.

Re:Where does the energy come from? (2, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319478)

That yellow think in the sky that makes your skin warm is supplying the energy.

Re:much worse than slowing (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319946)

Is this slowing the earth's orbit,
oh shoot, the winds in the northern hemisphere are predominantly Easterly, unless we build equal numbers in the southern hemisphere were going to be speeding the earths rotation, this means I'll get old faster! These turbines are stealing my life!!!! Hillary please save me from these quacks building the things!!!

Re:Where does the energy come from? (1)

rubah (1197475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320096)

The way I understand it (probably badly), sunlight pumps energy into the atmosphere. The radiant heat warms the air in one location, the heat makes the air want to move to a cold location, ergo wind.

the neat thing about wind power is that it takes away a little bit of that wind power and converts it to electricity.

if you argue that we are responsible for the extra energy via trapping it with our carbon dioxides, then you could say that we are reversing the effects of global warming and instead of having massively huge thunderstorms from extra atmospheric energy that uproot huge healthy oak trees in arkansas, by putting a bunch of turbines in oklahoma, you keep your trees and get extra energy.

And I don't have to wear my hair in a ponytail every day because the wind keeps blowing it into my face.

C'mon okies, build me some windmills.

big catch (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319480)

There's one big catch to this: the town isn't 100% wind powered. Instead, it produces more energy from wind power than it uses each year. Wind speed changes, and people use different amounts of electricity at different times, so a significant part of the town's electricity will still come from conventional generation through the grid.

Wind power is nice, but the rule of thumb for wind power is that it doesn't actually replace any conventional generating capacity, it merely reduces the utilization at times. Since there are times when the wind power doesn't do any good, you can't actually get rid of any of your conventional capacity.

To actually replace anything with wind, you'd need a tremendous overcapacity that was sufficiently distributed geographically to ensure that enough of it got wind all the time to meet your total power needs.

Re:big catch (3, Insightful)

cobaltnova (1188515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319554)

I sure hope you aren't saying this as an argument against wind. Every little bit counts in this energy battle: a mature approach will tap many different sources of power. Also, if there is a suruplus at some times, then energetically intensive industrial operations can be scheduled for those times (for instance, aluminum refining).

Re:big catch (2, Interesting)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319724)

Also, if there is a suruplus at some times, then energetically intensive industrial operations can be scheduled for those times (for instance, aluminum refining).

Not if you need guaranteed availability for a period of hours - imagine that you have the furnace almost up to temperature and the power gets cut, that would be a massive waste of energy. Also, you talk of scheduling as if we can forecast wind speed days in advance - you can't of course. Which all means that for practically all industrial applications, wind power fails as a viable alternative. Indeed, domestic applications are pretty unforgiving of random fluctuations too - sorry kids, we can't have dinner tonight, the wind isn't blowing.

And what is the average cost of wind power anyway? Probably a lot higher than coal even with large carbon taxes.

Re:big catch (5, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319810)

Indeed, domestic applications are pretty unforgiving of random fluctuations too - sorry kids, we can't have dinner tonight, the wind isn't blowing.
That's why you need energy stores, like hydro plants. When there's not enough energy going in you open the valve, and when there's an excess you pump stuff up to the top again, they already do this with conventional power sources why would wind be any different.

And what is the average cost of wind power anyway? Probably a lot higher than coal even with large carbon taxes.
How? coal power stations have all the initial costs of wind farms and then a fuel cost, a waste cost and an environmental cost.

Re:big catch (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319778)

To actually replace anything with wind, you'd need a tremendous overcapacity that was sufficiently distributed geographically to ensure that enough of it got wind all the time to meet your total power needs.
There are these magical things called batteries, that store energy when your not using it and allow you to use it latter, so you can get rid of the conventional capacity. Over something the size of the american grid (is it all o the same grid?), you could probably get away with just a days storage

Re:big catch (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319892)

Right, "just" a day's storage of the power used on the US grid. You'd better be building some big batteries. Wind contributes anything from 10-20% of it's nominal capacity to peak supply.

Someone please tell me... (1)

r0bVious (923965) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319494)

...what the hell is a Jiga-Watt?

Re:Someone please tell me... (2, Informative)

Rhapsody Scarlet (1139063) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319742)

Because at the time [wikipedia.org] , 'gigawatt' was more commonly pronounced with a soft 'g', which is still the official NIST [wikipedia.org] pronunciation. It's only since then, with the rise of computers in everyday life, that the hard 'g' pronunciation has become ubiquitous.

But seriously, you have an active Slashdot account! How could you possibly not know basic Back to the Future trivia like this?

Yay for wind, uh...not? (5, Interesting)

joshamania (32599) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319550)

I'm not sure what the metric is exactly, but it has to do with something like, megawatt-hours-produced-per-acre. This measurement is used when discussing power production by some engineering geeks somewhere...sorry, just trying to point the discussion down a path quickly here and not really set it up too much. :-)

In short, as cool as we all would like wind power generation to be, it just falls way too short in the aforemention critical statistic. If you've seen the wind farm outside of San Fran, you know how big they can get. The nuke plant between SD & LA (iirc) is but a postage stamp compared to that windfarm and it probably has about twice the power output.

Wind is not population density friendly. At some point, land costs wipe out any efficiencies.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (2, Interesting)

ijustam (1127015) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319608)

The pillar that the turbine is mounted to doesn't take up that much room. I imagine a company would pay a farmer to give them a small chunk (probably 0.01 acres) of land for a turbine. If low-altitude (0-500ft~) sky were prime real-estate then we'd have problems, but luckily no one really wants to build anything there.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

joshamania (32599) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319646)

Think Japan. Maritime traffic at sea and real estate costs inland would make deploying large numbers of wind turbines a poor choice. A dozen 100 acre nuclear plants would produce the same power as many hundreds of wind turbines...the largest of which do take up considerable space around them, it's not just a footprint.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

joshamania (32599) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319670)

A for instance:

The largest wind turbines weigh many tons....the structures that hold them many more. You cannot just plop one of these onto any spot of empty dirt you see. A considerable foundation must be poured of reinforced concreted, which may have to be anchored to bedrock, but IANACE (...civil engineer...). You dont want to have the thing sink or god forbid shift and fall. Even still you couldn't put them denser than the falling distance from one to another or a slight engineering snafu turns your billion dollar windfarm into the worlds most expensive set of dominos.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319948)

Where possible, this can and does work:

http://www.capewind.org/ [capewind.org]

Cape Wind is proposing America's first offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. Miles from the nearest shore, 130 wind turbines will gracefully harness the wind to produce up to 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. In average winds, Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the Cape and Islands electricity needs.

You'll note from the project's FAQ that the farm is miles from shore and does not impede on shipping lanes. Also note the power generation (up to 420MW).

How far apart will the wind turbines be spaced on Horseshoe Shoal?

The wind turbines will be arrayed in a grid pattern of parallel rows. Within a row, the wind turbines will be .34 nautical miles apart (about 6 football fields), the rows will be .54 nautical miles apart (about 9 football fields).

That's not chump change with regards to ocean acreage usage. But that's the best part. There's lots of ocean out there. And while nuclear energy is a great choice for base load, wind can definitely pick up the slack.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319622)

I'm not anti-nuke. With all of the desalination we'll need to do in the future, it really makes the most sense. However ocean based wind farms are a great idea and we really ought to pursue that too, since land cost is well, rather irrelevant, as is noise.

There's a great offshore wind project in the Netherlands [planetark.com] we would be well served to emulate. California is between a rock and a hard place since they're net power importers and (due to smog regs) the only conventional power plants they can build are natural gas powered, which sets us up for another Enron, only this time in the CNG market.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (-1, Flamebait)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319662)

They don't exactly plop nuclear reactors down in population centers, either.

You can't go 100% wind power... that is obvious. But the US has over 10,000 miles of coastline... Even if exclude Alaska and the Gulf coast you still have 4000 miles.

Okay, so sea air sucks - and Ted Kennedy doesn't want the view from his rape compound to be obstructed. The US has one of the lowest population densities in the world... there is plenty of land for turbines - neglecting that they can even be mounted on top of buildings.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

joshamania (32599) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319682)

See my lower post...no, they cannot be mounted on buildings unless you want millions of mini turbines littering the countryside.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320038)

See my lower post...no, they cannot be mounted on buildings unless you want millions of mini turbines littering the countryside.
What's wrong with mini-turbines, exactly? Most houses wouldn't use more than 5kW if they had energy efficient appliances.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320086)

not following you, I guess your saying you hate the look. personally I think the old time wind mills are pretty cool looking, even the new style has a real geek factor.
your other arguments seam to be wind power can't make this country self sufficient (agreed.) But their are not enough known nuclear material in the US to be self sufficient in nuclear, so it definitely can't (currently) solve the US energy problems either (unless were willing and able to kick South Africa's ass next.)
Last factor is they cost a bunch today (agreed.) But thats where putting them on buildings sounds smart. IE supplement the power as close to the demand, and knock down one of the big problems of big buildings (they channel wind) at the same time. Until nuclear can be supplied from thousands of small plants, were going to have to feed, maintain, build, defend this pain in the ass electric grid.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (2, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319842)

Okay, so sea air sucks
Why not use tidal power along the cost, its more reliable than wind power too.

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (1)

joshamania (32599) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319706)

Uh, lol, I just actually RTFA and, uh, does that say that wind farm cost $70,000 per person it provides power for? Or was it $35,000 per person?

Re:Yay for wind, uh...not? (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320016)

Wind is not population density friendly.
Perhaps that says more about our population density than it says about wind.

The earth has managed to power every population that has been on it so far. Now, a population exists where the Earth's current resources can't meet their needs.

wha...? (4, Informative)

Takichi (1053302) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319576)

Ow. My brain hurts after trying to read that article. Did someone randomly select quotes and comments from a bag? Here's a better written version, though still light on the information (no figures for cost per kWh) http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1568/ [ecogeek.org]

Re:wha...? (1)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319860)

I initially thought the same thing, but consider the source: a TV station. It's most likely a transcript.

More questions (3, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319584)

The article sucked. Are the turbines really powering the town, or is that going into the grid in general? The article mentions that the power won't be free, but that the mayor hopes it will cost less because of lower transmission fees. So how much does it cost? The article mentions the landowner that set the thing up. So is it privately owned, or part of the city? Does the city actually buy electricity from this guy, or does he just make money selling to the power companies? What the heck does John Deere have to do with anything?

Re:More questions (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319868)

Of course the power isn't free. It is being generated by wind turbines not handed down by God directly to peoples houses.

Congratulations! (2, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319598)

Good to see that even though the country may be fumbling and lagging behind where it should be from an environmental point of view, individuals and sections of the community are taking up the slack and forging ahead.

Backup? (1)

hairykrishna (740240) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319618)

What are they using as their hot backup supply? If they were truly 100% wind they'd have to put up with regular brownouts.

Re:Backup? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319844)

So they're using the grid as a big, cheap battery. What's the problem with that? Unless they're preparing for massive, catastrophic nuclear war, the grid's going to be a pretty damn reliable backup source.

Re:Backup? (2, Informative)

bledri (1283728) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319930)

They are connected to the power grid, just like every other city. When the wind turbines fall below local needs, they consume power from the grid. When the turbines generate more power than the town needs, they pump power into the grid for others to use.

They appear to be a net producer, which seems to be a good thing.

on the other news... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319640)

"First Town In US To Become 100% Wind Powered"

In the other news today, Washington, D.C celebrates being the first historic town of 200 years to be run by 100% old wind bags.

But think of the birds... (0)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319698)

Those poor birds.

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. WHACK!

Re:But think of the birds... (4, Informative)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319818)

Those poor birds.

That's mostly a legend, remaining from the times of small, very fast rotating wind wheels.

Nowadays, this isn't an issue any more: The wheels are much higher (less birds) and slower
(birds can react to and avoid them). I've been to a couple of recent generation generators,
and have even climbed one (great view) - there wasn't a single dead bird lying around in the
vicinity. Yes, I looked for them.

Re:But think of the birds... (0, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319954)

ah yes, you've noticed one of the fine features of the today's advanced wind turbines. they grind birds into a rich fertile mulch, to increase appeal to the farmer market segment. Soon to be debuted for offshore tide turbines, to transform whales, baby seals and dolphins into a nutritious and beneficial chum.

Re:But think of the birds... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319998)

Excellent point. Most people aren't aware that because of the sweep size and speed of the latest generation of wind turbines, much fewer birds are killed due to impacts.

Re:But think of the birds... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320026)

You're example is flawed: Any wind-power-advocate will point out that birds don't chirp while flying.

Re:But think of the birds... (4, Insightful)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320074)

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. Of course, cats (also bad rubbish, btw) kill over a billion birds and small animals in this country each year, so the few killed by turbines (see sibling post) are pretty insignificant.

16 gigawatt hours (16 million kilowatt hours) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319700)

16 gigawatt hours ((((16 million kilowatt hours) 160 million centiwatt hours) 1600 million decawatt hours) 16,000 million watt hours)

Re:16 gigawatt hours (16 million kilowatt hours) (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319846)

You forgot 5.45942661 x 10^10 BTU

Or about the energy wasted by AC posters pushing buttons to post replys to Slashdot, per fortnight.

Not the first town... (0, Redundant)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319712)

This is not the first town to be completely powered by wind. Washington D.C. is the first town to be completely powered by wind. Mind you it is the hot air of all those lawyers, politicians, and lobbyists but it is all wind power.

Watch the up coming election process to see just how much over capacity can be generated by the wind bags in D.C.

It'll take a while to pay this one off (4, Insightful)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319770)

At $0.11 on average per kWh, the savings is $1.7m annually, plus another $300k from the energy they sell to the power company. That's 45 years to recoup the investment ($90m), not including maintaining the turbines for 45 years (more info here [ecogeek.org] )

Still, I think this should be the new standard for sustainable living and development.

And to put 16 gigawatt hours into perspective... the average household in America uses around 11,000 kWh annually. See Official Government Website [doe.gov]

Rock Port, MO needs to add their watts saved [whosavedwatt.com] to the total. It's like they switched out 64,000,000 incandescent bulbs for CFCs!

Re:It'll take a while to pay this one off (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319982)

Just wait until coal companies have to tack a carbon tax onto each kwH they sell (similar to the decommissioning fee tacked onto each kwH for nuclear power plants). Wind/solar become more competitive as that occurs.

Re:It'll take a while to pay this one off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319986)

Are you including the subsidies given to coal and nuclear in your pay off calculations? At some point we will have to make a sensible decision as to exactly what things our government subsidies based on true value to the community.

I wonder.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23319798)

I wonder how much pollution other industrial centers put out in transporting supplies for, building, moving, and installing the windmills.

I read somewhere that the standard windmill takes around 13 years to put out the amount of energy needed to construct and install it. That energy has to come from somewhere - and chances are, for at least a decade or so (after which they'll probably need more energy, anyway), this town is responsible for more pollution than they otherwise would have been.

That's some expensive electricity! (1, Interesting)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319824)

"The $90 million Loess Hills Wind Farm" .... "is eventually expected to generate 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year"

$90 million for 16 million kWh/year.

Lessee... over 5 years that's $1.12 per kWh, ouch.
Over 10 years... nah, still a bit much.
Over 30 years (can you still get mortgages that long?) it's 19 cents per kWh. ...without maintenance costs.
Or interest.

I hate to say it, but this smells like fail. Yeah, a nice feel-good project perhaps, and certainly green, but it's not looking economically viable, if that $90 million number is accurate.

And speaking of $90 million for 4 windmills... 20 million+ per windmill? No. Freakin'. Way.

Re:That's some expensive electricity! (4, Insightful)

Blkdeath (530393) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319924)

A really quick Google search turned up this article [cnn.com] which will hopefully put things into a bit of perspective. $2 billion to build a coal plant; while I grant you it'll generate more than 16MWh/year, is still a damn hefty pricetag. How many year (nee: decades) will it take to pay one of those off?

Also, FYI; 40 year mortgage amortizations are becoming very commonplace while some companies are looking towards the prospect of 50 year ams.

As for maintainence costs; how much does it cost to maintain a coal fired plant? How much does it cost to maintain a nuclear plant? How much does it cost to handle the waste product from same? How much ongoing environmental impact is there?

I'm no tree hugger by any stretch, but the fact that a town was able to generate an annual surplus of natural energy with no environmental by-products is a pretty decent little achievement. A small step towards reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Windmill pumps? (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 5 years ago | (#23319848)

Aren't the old windmill pumps still around? Can they devise some kind of generator that could use the spare turns from them into a little bit of electricity? I think some of those things have been around for quite a long time...

Re:Windmill pumps? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320020)

Aren't the old windmill pumps still around? Can they devise some kind of generator that could use the spare turns from them into a little bit of electricity? I think some of those things have been around for quite a long time...

Prior to rural electrification, this was done all the time. Farmers had banks of batteries charged by DC generators driven by windmills. And they had all kinds of neat 36V appliances, like lamps, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, irons, etc.

It's a nice rural town. (1)

kvap (454189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320002)

A bit off topic, but it is really a nice little rural town.

They also have a regional office for Rural Source (http://www.ruralsource.com). So there may be some area IT contractors that are working off that wind power.

4 turbines for 1300 people? (1, Insightful)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | more than 5 years ago | (#23320018)

So if we wanted to power say, California, which as of 2006 has 36,457,549 [census.gov] people we would need something around (36,457,549/4=28044 so 28044*4=) 112,177 wind turbines. That is stupid ridiculous!

Why would we not have 2 or 3 nuke plants and achieve the same goal with way less environmental impact, better impact on the tax payers wallets and we wouldn't kill all the birds in the state!

Wind power 'feels good' but when you start running the numbers it gets dumb real quick.
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