Winds of change are blowing
Mayors on the East Side seem interested in cooperating with the Summit County Commission to determine whether wind power could be profitably produced in the area.
"Cowboys and wind turbines," Park City Mayor Dana Williams said while speaking last week to the mayors of Kamas, Francis, Coalville and Oakley. "This is actually a viable industry that could take quite a chunk out of foreign (oil) dependence."
With the Marsac Building preparing to install a small, 30-foot wind turbine at Quinn’s Junction, Williams wants officials in eastern Summit County to OK similar wind studies.
"We just know that we have a pretty constant crosswind that is there every single day," said Williams about the site at Quinn’s Junction that he says is "very, very viable."
Oakley Mayor Blake Frazier suggests putting an anemometer at the mouth of Weber Canyon to determine whether wind could be harnessed in South Summit for electricity. "Oakley City is really interested in this," Frazier said.
"One, is the wind there to start?" Francis Mayor John Bergen asked. "And secondly, is it close to a transmission line so you can put it into the transmission line and recapture it for various communities?"
Fifty-meter towers can be leased from the state for $5,000 to help determine if wind power could be lucrative in Summit County, said Williams.
"We have to identify the sites," the mayor told the county’s Council of Governments, which is comprised of commissioners and the six mayors.
Should the federal government achieve its goals to increase the amount of wind power in the U.S. in the next 20 years, $60 billion could be invested in rural America, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The industry could create 80,000 new jobs and provide $1.2 billion in new income for farmers and rural landowners, according to estimates from the federal government.
"This isn’t just a peace-sign waving, ecology movement anymore," Williams said. "If we are showing that we’re viable in areas around Summit County, I think over time there will be groups approaching us."
The Council of Governments plans to apply for a grant from Rocky Mountain Power to construct a wind tower.
"These towers will stay up over the course of a year to determine what the resource is like," explained Sara Baldwin, community relations coordinator for the Utah Clean Energy group.
According to Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer, "There is no reason why we wouldn’t do it."
Meanwhile, three large wind farms in Utah are planned for construction near Spanish Fork, Tooele and Beaver, Baldwin said.
"We’re surrounded by states with hundreds of thousands of megawatts," she said, adding that statewide Utah uses about one megawatt of wind power.
But thousands of dollars can be generated for ranchers with wind turbines on their property, Baldwin told the Council of Governments.
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.