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Winning over the neighbours

The largest public power wind project in America went online at the end of August in south east Washington. Renewable Energy Systems (RES), a British owned wind developer, completed the 48.1 MW Nine Canyon wind farm in three months and officially turned it over to owner Energy northwest which is selling the power to nine public power utilities in the region. It is RES's first project in the Northwestern US, but not the last, says the company's Chris Morgan. "We look forward to extending our operations in this region."

As the project was being constructed this summer, nearby homeowners in Kennewick initially objected to the size of the turbines turning on the ridge above their neighbourhood, but Energy Northwest's Gary Miller says the opposition has waned in the past couple of months as people realise the slow-turning machines actually had a "stately majesty."

Plans for a second wind farm of comparable size on a nearby ridge has slowed, says Miller, mostly due to the glacial pace of getting the US Department of Energy (DOE), a huge presence in the area, to sign on to buy power from the Zintel Canyon project (Windpower Monthly, May 2002). Federal regulations may require DOE to go through a solicitation process before it chooses a power source. "We had hoped that DOE would commit to a fairly large part of the project," Miller says. If the DOE goes to tender, he says, it may slow the project, but won't kill it.

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