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Project grows to meet demand

Response to a green pricing wind project proposed in Colorado has been so good that the municipal utility may soon install two wind turbines instead of the one originally planned.

Response to a "green pricing" wind project proposed in Colorado has been so good that the municipal utility may soon install two wind turbines instead of the one originally planned. Fort Collins Light & Power in north-central Colorado has so far registered nearly 700 homes for its Wind Power Pilot Programme, says the utilities marketing manager Steve VanderMeer.

The possibility of wind power is clearly electrifying Fort Collins citizens. Customers who have registered are agreeing to pay an extra $10-15 on their electricity bill every month, based on the utility's calculation that wind power will cost an extra $0.02/kWh to produce and deliver.

"For me, it's a basic philosophy of it doesn't cost that much more, and it's worth saving the environment," resident Jane Glenn told the Denver Post. Another customer, Shawna Prevedel, said: "We think it's important to start encouraging new sources of power because we're using up our resources. This is a source that's very clean."

The programme was originally expected to supply wind power to only 350 residential or business customers. But response was so high, the municipal utility is continuing to take additional registrations in the hopes it will be able to install a total of 1.4-1.5 MW of wind power -- two turbines -- instead of the single 750 kW machine initially planned. The municipal utility says one 750 kW wind turbine can supply enough power on average for 350 of its customers.

Micon or Vestas

Platte River Power Authority, the utility that provides power to Fort Collins Light & Power and three other municipalities, is already negotiating with an American vendor, says VanderMeer. Among the turbines that the wind development company is offering to install are machines from Micon or Vestas, both Danish companies although Micon now has an assembly plant on US soil at Hutchinson in Minnesota. Negotiations with a turbine supplier may be completed as soon as this month, says VanderMeer. Ground will then be broken when the snow melts and the project should be operating in the autumn or early in 1998.

Fort Collins Power & Light, which has 44,000 ratepayers in total, has not yet decided whether it will own the turbines or have the vendor operate them. Board members for the municipality are keenly aware of last year's bankruptcy of Kenetech Windpower, which was to build a wind farm in Wyoming, not far north of Fort Collins. Even so, the municipal utility says it hopes eventually to be able to offer its customers wind power on a larger scale if this first cluster is successful.

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