Turbines on the horizon for Monticello
Jun 29, 2011 | 3216 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Massive wind turbines owned by Wasatch Wind sit at the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon.  The Park City-based company is considering a site northwest of Monticello for a wind farm.  Courtesy photo
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Wind turbines may be on the horizon for Monticello. Wasatch Wind, a Park City-based company that installed nine wind turbines at the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon, is assessing a site northwest of Monticello for a possible wind farm.

A Wasatch Wind official took great pains to stress that the project is still in the assessment and concept phases, but acknowledged that the company is hopeful.

At the current time, Wasatch Wind is considering a proposal that would place between 20 and 32 turbines on private ground just south of Gordons Reservoir.

“This is subject to a typical development process,” said Michelle Stevens, Director of Marketing for Wasatch Winds. “Our project will evolve over time and will certainly change.”

Using industry standards, a 32-turbine wind farm would cost approximately $65 million. It would generate up to 65 megawatts of electricity and could provide power for more than 20,000 average Utah homes.

Many San Juan County residents will be familiar with the nine wind turbines at the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon in Utah Valley.

The Spanish Fork project went “live” in 2008. When operating at full capacity, the 18.9-megawatt project can generate power for approximately 6,500 average Utah homes.

Wasatch Wind is also in the permitting process on a second wind farm on federal property in Converse County, WY, close to Casper. This is a 100-megawatt project.

Stevens is careful to point that numbers change as a project evolves. “The Wyoming project was first discussed as a 200 to 400-megawatt wind farm,” said Stevens. “Now it will be closer to 100 megawatts or one quarter of the initial size.”

Regardless of the final outcome, Stevens said the San Juan County wind farm would be relatively small when compared with the new wind farms in the Milford area.

At the current time, standard wind turbines generate between 1.6 and 3.0 megawatts of power. The Spanish Fork turbines can generate 2.1 megawatts.

The typical turbine sits on a tower that is 80 meters off the ground, with the topmost blade 120 meters (400 feet) above the ground. The typical footprint for a turbine is approximately one acre. Landscaping will remain the same for the area around the turbines.

While construction costs are hard to estimate, the industry standard is that it costs roughly $1 million per megawatt to develop a wind farm. The cost of the Spanish Fork project, Utah’s first commercial wind farm, was closer to $1.7 million per megawatt.

The construction phase is approximately six months to a year. Stevens said that if the project moves forward, Wasatch Wind would contract with local construction crews for large portions of the project. A local operations and maintenance staff would maintain the wind farm.

“Being a Utah company, Wasatch Wind would certainly love to develop projects like these close to home,” said Stevens. “We see the economic impact on communities such as Spanish Fork and would love to develop economic opportunities in our own state.”

Stevens adds that the company looks for areas where wind resources are commercially viable, where they can sell power that is generated and where the existing infrastructure can connect to the grid.

“The area northwest of Monticello is an area we are interested in looking at more closely,” she said.

The City of Monticello has pursued the development of wind energy resources for a number of years. Three test wind anemometers have collected wind information at locations southeast, northwest and north of city limits.

Utah State University estimates that the annual economic impact of the $32 million Spanish Fork project includes more than $100,000 in local salaries, nearly $200,000 in purchases of materials and services, $75,000 in land lease payments, and $112,000 in property tax revenue.

The construction phase created 40 jobs and infused more than $5 million into the local economy.

Wasatch Wind was formed in 2002 and developed Utah’s first commercial wind farm in 2008.

The Park City-based company is focused on states in the Intermountain West, including Utah, Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho.
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