Huntsman Post

Huntsman professors continue research on wind power, produce documentary

There’s apparently more than one answer blowin’ in the wind.

Two Jon M. Huntsman School of Business professors who played a key role in the launching of a wind power plant at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon just south of Provo, Utah, have released a new study focusing on how a wind plant might benefit Summit County.

Photo by Donna Barry

Cathy Hartman and Edwin Stafford recently completed a Utah State University-U.S. Department of Energy study that estimates that a modest 50-megawatt wind power development in Summit County, Utah, could generate more than $31 million in economic output to the state of Utah during its construction. It could support 51 onsite construction jobs with a total payroll of almost $3 million, the study concludes.

“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 Dr. Hartman, a marketing professor and one of the co-authors of the study.

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. It could also generate more than $800,000 in local property taxes for Summit County, of which more than $631,000 would support the South Summit School District, the study concludes.

The report, “An Analysis of State-Level Economic Impacts from the Development of Wind Power Plants in Summit County, Utah,” is available from the U.S. Department of Energy Web site, (http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/pdfs/economic_development/2009/ut_summit_county.pdf ).

The study examines the economic impacts of several scenarios of wind-project installations, ranging in size from 25 megawatts to 130 megawatts, for the Porcupine Ridge area of Summit County. The Utah State Energy Program’s anemometer loan program has identified the Porcupine Ridge site as having wind resources sufficient for large commercial development.

The economic impacts were estimated using the Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) model developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. David Ratliff, a USU graduate and Edwin Stafford, Huntsman marketing professor, were co-authors of the study.

“Property tax revenues from wind power plants can be a real economic boon for schools,” Dr. Stafford said. “Even a modest-sized wind project could infuse millions of dollars into the local school district over its 20-year life.”

Utah’s first wind farm opened at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon in the summer of 2008. That successful project overcame numerous policy, location challenges and market obstacles to pave the way for more wind development throughout the state, according to Dr. Hartman.

Spanish Fork has paved the way for more wind power development throughout the state, according to Dr. Hartman. A major wind park, more than ten times the size of the Spanish Fork project, opened in November 2009 near Milford in southern Utah. Its energy is being sold to municipal utility companies in southern California. Other wind projects are now being considered in other communities across the state.

“Wind development is bringing both economic and environmental benefits and fostering a rural renaissance across the state,” Dr. Hartman said.

Dr. Stafford said they are currently preparing a documentary about the four-year struggle to establish the Spanish Fork Wind Project.

“It is a true entrepreneurship story about how the wind developers persevered to overcome the odds to bring renewable energy to Utah,” he said.

The documentary is expected to be released in spring 2010 and will further Drs. Hartman and Stafford’s education outreach mission. The film was accepted into the Mountain Film Festival at Mammoth California.

“The Spanish Fork story is testament to the power of the pioneering drive of Utahns,” Dr. Hartman said.