March 10, 2010

Looking at wind energy

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Anyone living in North Dakota knows that the state’s weather can at times be rather undesirable, especially when the wind is blowing. However, there are many people willing to not only live with the unfavorable wind, but also use the wind to their advantage. An advantage that is noticeable by the state’s changing landscape as wind turbines sprout up throughout the state.
A wind turbine is a large windmill that converts the energy of wind into kinetic energy. Harvesting wind energy is still rather new to the state of North Dakota, and because of an influx of questions from area landowners, the McKenzie County commission is hosting a public meeting on wind energy.
“We aren’t promoting or detracting from the wind energy industry,” says Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Job Development Authority executive director. “The goal of the meeting is to learn. There have been a lot of questions from area residents about wind energy, and we hope this meeting will help them understand the industry better.”
Currently, there are no wind farms in McKenzie County. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t individuals thinking about or in the process of putting up wind turbines or wind farms.
“This meeting is our way of getting ahead of things,” adds Veeder. “Wind energy is a growing industry in North Dakota. And we feel that the best way to help our residents is to help them get informed, whether they are interested in wind farming or just want to know how they would be affected if a neighbor decided to get into the business.”
The two-hour meeting will consist of four speakers followed by a question and answer session.
The speakers include Cole Gustafson, North Dakota Extension Agent, Tony Clark of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, Dale Patten, McKenzie County Commissioner and John Skurupey of McKenzie Electric.
“Topics will likely center on what the state has learned about wind energy development, issues that may have come up as wind farms become established and other issues surrounding wind energy,” adds Veeder. “Each of the speakers has some expertise that should be helpful and informational for community members interested or concerned about wind energy.”
Veeder notes that this meeting is not intended to educate people on how to start a wind farm; instead it is geared towards the people most often affected by a new wind farm.
“There has been a lot of controversy throughout the state over wind farms,” comments Veeder. “This meeting is a chance for us all to learn together, so that hopefully when the day comes that someone decides to build a wind farm in McKenzie County, we can all be educated and avoid some of the controversy that other areas of the state are seeing.”
The Wind Energy Meeting will be in the Memorial Room at the Watford City Civic Center at 2 p.m. on March 18.