Whether you find them attractive or an eyesore, Wednesday’s windy weather was one more reminder of why eastern Idaho has so many wind turbines.
Wild winds rattled the tent at an on site blade signing celebration of the Horse Butte Wind Project, 15 miles east of Idaho Falls.
In fact, gusts were so strong the lieutenant governor’s flight from Boise was cancelled, dust clouded the air, and everyone held on to their hard hats; all signs the land is perfect for generating renewable wind energy.
“Well, this will stay right here in the intermountain West,” said Douglas Hunter, general manager of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS. “The vast majority of that in Utah.”
It will also reach 26,000 Idaho customers, and others in Wyoming, Nevada and California.
The project, developed by UAMPS, will create 57.6 megawatts. That’s enough to power 25,000 homes.
Situated on more than 17,000 acres of private Bonneville County land, the turbines won’t be seen or heard from population centers.
“It was very important,” said Hunter. “That’s what makes this site so valuable to us compared to some of the other sites. It is away from public view for the most part and there are no homes around.”
Once the project is up and running, 32 turbines will produce the energy equal to 101,000 barrels of oil or 26,500 tons of coal per year.
Construction on the 452 ft. tall turbines started last November.
Our interview with project manager Justin Krueger was ruined by the wind.
He said besides the benefit of clean energy, there’s the boost for the local economy. From using truckers and concrete materials in town to lodging and dining for contractor and construction workers.
“Oh, it’s going great,” said Hunter.
And as long as the project continues down that path, the goal is to eventually add 23 more turbines.
Construction is expected to be finished by late fall. The Horse Butte Wind Farm should be generating power no later than Jan.1, 2012.