Report details wind-power benefits

By Kim Burgess
Published: in the Herald Journal, Sunday, October 18, 2009 2:09 AM CDT

A newly-released Utah State University-U.S. Department of Energy study estimates that a modest wind power development in the Park City area could generate more than $31 million for the state during its construction.

During its first year of operation, a 50-megawatt wind power plant could generate about $150,000 in land lease payments to Summit County landowners, according to the report. In addition, it could generate more than $800,000 in local property taxes, of which more than $631,000 would support the South Summit School District, the study.

“Wind power can create attractive economic opportunities for a local community in terms of new jobs, lease payments to landowners and new property tax revenues,” said Cathy Hartman, marketing professor at USU’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business and one of the co-authors of the study.

Fellow co-author Edwin Stafford, also a USU marketing professor, noted that the tax revenues from wind power “can be a real economic boon for schools.”

“Even a modest-sized wind project could infuse millions of dollars into the local school district over its 20-year life,” he said.

In the report, Hartman, Stafford and co-author David Ratliff of the U.S. Air Force projected the economic impacts of several different sizes of wind projects, ranging from 25 megawatts to 130 megawatts. The development would be located in the Porcupine Ridge area, which was identified as sufficiently windy by the Utah State Energy Program.

“Development of Summit County’s wind resources could bring additional economic and environmental benefits and foster a rural renaissance across the state,” Hartman said.

Park City Mayor Dana Williams has expressed interest in wind power, attending USU’s “Sustainable Energy Research and Climate Initiatives Conference” in 2008. The mountain resort community has set a goal of having 15 percent of residents and businesses sign up for Rocky Mountain Power’s renewable energy “Blue Sky” program.

Wind power only came to Utah a year ago, when the state’s first wind farm opened at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. A 203.5-megawatt wind project is expected to open by year’s end near Milford in southern Utah and USU has investigated the possibility of building a turbine at the mouth of Logan Canyon.

E-mail: kburgess@hjnews.com