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Wind power on the plains

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved special use permits in February for the installation of wind-monitoring poles on three agricultural properties in Calhan. The properties range from 35 to 1,760 acres.The permits were requested by Clipper Windpower, a British company with U.S. headquarters in Carpenteria, Calif.According to its Web site, Clipper Windpower operates wind farms in Iowa, Texas and Wyoming, providing enough electricity to power about 116,000 homes. The company’s first wind farm went online in Iowa in December 2003.”Clipper Windpower proposes to collect data in El Paso County to determine the feasibility of establishing a wind-powered electricity generating wind farm,” said Tony Deconinck, project manager for the El Paso County Development Services Department.According to documents prepared by the El Paso County Planning Commission, one of the monitoring poles was installed in 2006. This pole was retroactively permitted by the BOCC.Speaking at the BOCC meeting, Clipper Windpower representative Casey Willis said the monitoring poles are 10 inches in diameter at the base, tapering to a diameter of 6 inches at the top, and range in height from 164 feet to 197 feet.The poles will be secured by guide wires equipped with flags to help birds avoid the wires, Willis said.He also said Clipper Windpower plans to monitor wind in the Calhan area for at least one year and probably for three to five years. “If the wind is sufficient, we’ll move forward with the project. If not, we’ll pull the poles down and use them elsewhere,” Willis said.Clipper Windpower has not yet worked out the arrangements to sell the electricity that a wind farm would generate, Willis said. Their options include Mountain View Electric Association and Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which currently sells electricity to MVEA.If Clipper Windpower were to move forward with a wind farm, it would require a new special use permit in addition to the permit issued for the monitoring poles. They have also requested a special use permit to install a monitoring pole on a 442-acre parcel owned by Arlene Walker. The parcel is less than a mile southeast of the Funk and Yoder roads intersection.Two property owners bordering the Walker parcel were present at the BOCC meeting and objected to the installation of the monitoring pole on the parcel.Karen Oliver, who plans to build her retirement home on her property, said she is concerned about noise if a wind farm is eventually built. It would also be highly visible from her parcel and the other 40-acre parcels abutting the Walker parcel.”I know everybody wants to get into new ways of generating energy, but get the applicant to go to a larger parcel where it doesn’t affect so many people,” Oliver said.”For somebody in town, 40 acres seems like a lot of ground, but it’s not,” said property owner Barbara Schwartz. “I called five real estate offices and asked them what effect this would have on my property value. Three said they felt it would be a detriment if they do go through with wind generators. Two said they couldn’t say because there is nothing like that around here. I am not opposing alternative kinds of power – just don’t put them near our homes.”With two members absent, the board was unable to reach a consensus on the company’s request to install a monitoring pole on the Walker parcel. The board voted to continue the matter.Meanwhile, Darryl Edwards, MVEA’s manager of member services, said to his knowledge Clipper Windpower is the first company to demonstrate interest in El Paso County’s potential for industrial wind power.”I think it [a local wind farm] would be great for the area,” Edwards said. “We have a lot of good wind resources in Colorado, but they vary from place to place depending on the topography.”If anybody is serious about it, they absolutely have to put anemometers in several locations and make sure they have a good wind resource before they start investing the money.”A wind farm would bring in a lot of good tax revenue for the county, and there is good money to be made if you happen to own the land that these farms come in on.”According to an MVEA newsletter, wind power will soon be generating revenue for Lincoln and Elbert counties. Cedar Point Wind LLC plans to build a wind energy generation facility consisting of up to 150 wind turbine generators along Interstate 70, just north of Limon. When the project is fully operational, it will produce up to 300 MW of power.For more information on wind power, visit and’s wind power potentialFrom the Colorado Energy Office Web site:

  • Colorado ranks sixth in the nation with regard to wind capacity, trailing Texas, California, Iowa, Washington and Minnesota.
  • In 2007, Colorado added 775 megawatts of new wind-based electricity generation from wind farms in Logan County, Weld County and Bent County.
  • Wind energy project construction employed more than 600 people in Colorado in 2007. When the Vestas wind blade manufacturing plant comes online in 2008 in Windsor, more than 700 people will be directly employed by Colorado’s wind industry.

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