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Medford Considers Wind Power

Could Medford benefit from wind power? The Medford Clean Energy Committee has begun studying the feasibility of a wind turbine by installing a weather station at Hormel Stadium. The device monitors wind speed, providing data that will help determine if the site is appropriate for a wind turbine that would provide clean power for the McGlynn and/or Andrews schools.

Mayor Michael McGlynn created the Medford Clean Energy Committee in January 2004 to augment the city's effort to become a municipal leader in the use of clean power. Medford began using clean biodiesel fuel in several municipal vehicles in 2002 and has been generating solar power at city hall and Hormel Stadium since 1999. This would be the first wind project undertaken by the city.

The Hormel weather station was donated by Clean Energy Committee member Bob Paine and installed atop a 110-foot stadium lighting tower with the assistance of the city’s Building Department and the Medford Fire Department. Weather data is collected and transmitted wirelessly to a secure computer hosted at the nearby McGlynn Middle School. From there it is uploaded to Weather Underground, a web site that hosts local weather data all across the world.

“We’re excited by the prospect of potentially generating wind power in Medford,” said Patricia Barry, the city’s Environmental Agent. “A small wind turbine would supply less expensive cleaner energy for our schools, and provide an educational tool for our students.”

The solar-powered Davis Vantage Pro2 system measures a variety of weather conditions including wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, dewpoint, and rainfall down to a 100th of an inch, making it a valuable educational tool as well. Wind speed and wind gust data will help determine whether the site is appropriate for a wind turbine.

Wind power is one of the world’s fastest growing energy sources. Global wind power generation increased by 24 percent in 2005 to 59,100 megawatts, a twelve-fold increase from a decade ago. According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. installed more new capacity than any other country, bringing total wind energy production to over 9,000 MW – enough to power 2.3 million homes. Good wind areas, which cover 6% of the continental U.S., have the potential to supply more than one and a half times the current electricity consumption of the United States.

The city received grant funding to hire a consulting firm to evaluate the McGlynn and Andrews school site. Sustainable Energy Development, Inc. of Ontario, New York, will be conducting a wind study and make recommendations on the project location and scale. If approved, the turbine would provide the schools with 10 - 100 kilowatts of electricity.

Data from the Hormel weather station can be viewed online at http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KMAMEDFO3.

Published in the Medford Transcript, February 8, 2007.

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