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United States

Small scale funds and projects

Wind projects announced by the US Department of Energy (DOE) since May 1999 fall into three main categories: small wind turbines; projects on remote Native American land; and projects on federal land. All of the initiatives are small scale, and not all are labelled specifically as Wind Powering America (WPA) projects. Total spending on them is no more than $3.5 million.

The small wind turbine project money of $1.2 million is divided fairly evenly among six companies, with the largest chunk, $248,000, going to Offshore Services in Rhode Island. There, five small turbines will generate power on Block Island, which has one of the nation's highest electricity costs. Two other companies will install eight units at coastal sites, farms and parks in Maine, New York and New Jersey. The Blackfeet Indian Tribe in Browning, Montana, will install four turbines to power a wastewater treatment plant. And two brands of small turbine -- the Havatex 2000 and a new model by World Power Technologies -- will be tested at five sites. Meanwhile, another $200,000 was granted -- prior to WPA -- for development, installation and monitoring of small wind turbines in four projects, ranging from construction of a small wind turbine by pupils at a public school to demonstration of new battery charging units, "windchargers," by small turbine maker Southwest Windpower together with local and international partners.

Native American projects are granted more than $2 million in five states and win the lion's share of the funding. Most of the grants are given on a cost share basis. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota receives the highest endowment: $1 million to cover half the costs to install a 750 kW wind turbine to power tribal facilities. Three tribes in North Dakota get $250,000 toward a 100 kW unit, while other tribes in New Mexico and California have partial funding for hybrid power systems.

Projects for federal government sites were granted a total of only $275,000 a few weeks before WPA was officially launched in June. One of these grants helps to fund the installation of two 660 kW turbines for the Army National Guard. The other offers $25,000 in partial funding for a hybrid wind/solar system in Alaska.

Meanwhile, the US Army announced in October plans for a prototype wind project in Fort Bliss, Texas, to test wind's potential at military installations. No money figures were announced. Another initiative without hard money facts was announced in August, where a public-private partnership in Alaska will train "bladerunners" and "windsmiths" to help growth of wind energy in the state.

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