Rock Port, Mo., declares itself 100 percent wind-powered

Sunday, April 20, 2008

ROCK PORT, Mo. -- Officials in this northwest Missouri town christened a four-turbine wind farm last week, making Rock Port the first U.S. city to get all of its electricity from wind power.

The $90 million Loess Hills Wind Farm, built by St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group and the John Deere Corp. on bluffs west of Rock Port, generates five megawatts each day, more than enough for this town of 1,300.

In fact, the farm is producing enough energy to power a second town of Rock Port's size. Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities will buy excess power from the farm, expected to eventually generate 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

"Rock Port is making the burning of fossil fuels today's alternative energy supply," Eric Chamberlain, project manager for Wind Capital Group, told hundreds of residents who turned out Friday for the ceremony.

Among those attending was Winona Hall and her daughter Rebecca Herron. Hall has a turbine on her property and the two women said they looked forward to wind power's benefits. They and other people who agreed to allow turbines on their land were praised for their patience.

Construction on the farm began last spring and included 500 workers from 20 states, Chamberlain said.

Mayor Jo Stevens said she wouldn't have guessed such a project was possible when she retired from the local utility in 2002.

Wind Capital president Tom Carnahan acknowledged that wind energy is expensive now but said the costs of constructing it would decline over time.

"More than once, I had to ask you to trust me," Carnahan told the audience. "You put the good of your community ahead of your individual concerns. ... This project really never should have happened."

"Today you declared your energy independence," he later added.

Comments
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: