EnXco investigates wind potential in Idaho

EnXco could be the first wind developer to take a serious look at Idaho's unproven commercial wind resource. The two meteorological towers it installed 20 miles north of Twin Falls will test the 1000 acre Notch Butte Farms site that potentially could support as many as 15 to 20 turbines and produce a maximum 30 MW. Although it is ranked as the 13th best US state for wind power potential, Idaho has been slow to draw attention from wind developers because it has no set asides or mandates that promote renewables development, nor does it have any real-time wind data, says Dave Luck of EnXco. In addition, the state has some of the lowest retail electric rates in the Northwest. Despite the drawbacks, the energy section of the state's Water Resources Department has been promoting wind development and recently sponsored a wind power conference in Boise. Luck says one problem with Idaho's wind resource is that it is dependent on "very localised geologic features...at least those sites near transmission." The Notch Butte Farms site, for example, is simply on higher ground in the flat Snake River Valley. Luck says EnXco normally leaves the meteorological towers up for a year, but will likely collect data for six months. The turbines could be installed within a year from that date.