Utah first at Great Salt Lake

A Utah engineering firm that builds small power plants is working with Britain's Renewable Energy Systems (RES) to build the state's first wind farm, a 100-150 MW project near Stockton, south of the Great Salt Lake, if it can find a buyer for the wind farm's electricity. Tasco Engineering is also talking with farmers about another potential wind power site, also with RES, but the Stockton project is the furthest along, according to Tasco owner Gary Tassainer.

"We hope we will be the first wind power project in Utah," Tassainer says. But that depends on securing a power purchase agreement. "Power prices are down right now and utilities are more difficult to work with," he explains. One of the few potential local buyers of the output is PacifiCorp, which provides power to much of the state through its Utah Power subsidiary, including heavily populated Salt Lake City. PacifiCorp already buys about 90 MW of wind from the Foote Creek and Rock River projects in Wyoming and PacifiCorp Power Marketing is buying the output of FPL Energy's 278 MW Stateline project on the Oregon and Washington border.

Utah's wind resource is not as good as that of Wyoming, its neighbour to the north, although Tassainer says the resource is reasonable and is free of the transmission bottlenecks that are currently limiting wind development in Wyoming.

A confident Tassainer says he has already received the conditional use permit from Tooele County needed to build the first 25 MW within a year. He says the project will likely use Bonus 1.3 MW turbines due to RES' relationship with the Danish turbine manufacturer.

Rallying cry

He is disappointed that American industrialists have yet to realise the potential of making wind turbines. Tassainer says building wind farms now is good business, but he also has a personal reason. He and his family live in Utah County where pollution from Geneva Steel and summer weather inversions combine to seriously affect air quality. "Maybe it comes with age, but as I get older I like to see things get taken care of for future generation."

Tassainer says a second project could be as large as 100 MW, but he has yet to secure all the land and so refuses to provide more details.