USA - Small villiage now running water plant with wind energy

50 megawatt hours will meet the energy needs of 5,000 single-family homes

Northbrook, a small village in Illinois is doing its part to make the air better to breathe by turning wind into water. By signing an electricity contract last month the village became the first municipality in Illinois, and one of the first in the country, to purchase enough wind-generated energy to run an entire municipal utility, its water plant. "There are others in the state that are thinking about it, but Northbrook is the first to jump on board," said Leslie McCain, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania-based Community Energy Inc., which sells electricity produced by wind farms, including farms in north central Illinois.

Before entering the agreement, Northbrook had been buying 155 megawatt hours of electricity each year. On Sept. 1, that soared to 4,500 megawatt hours per year, enough to power a facility that annually pumps 2.2 billion gallons of water through the faucets and garden hoses of the village's 34,000 residents. The contract, approved by the Village Board, is expected to add $4 to $5 to an average residential water bill each year, according to Northbrook officials. Considered a "clean and green" form of alternative energy because it creates electricity with no combustion, smoke or waste, wind-generated power slowly has been increasing in popularity since cities such as Eugene, Ore., first began using the technology in the late 1990s.

Seven years after offering its customers the option of dedicating all or part of their electrical payments to buy wind-generated electricity, Eugene officials voted in July to double the amount the city purchases annually to 50 megawatt hours. That will meet the energy needs of 5,000 single-family homes. Several other cities, including Madison, Wis., Denver and Seattle, also are integrating wind energy into their power grids. Electricity companies in Florida and Oklahoma have statewide programs that use wind-generated power.

By jumping on the wind-blown bandwagon, Northbrook stands alongside Naperville as two of the state's pioneers in employing alternative energy sources. In 2005 Naperville allowed its energy customers the option of purchasing environmentally friendly electricity, including power from wind farms. When the program began, the city's goal was to have 5 percent of its 55,000 homes involved by the end of 2006. That figure was met this summer, according to Naperville city engineer Cyrus Ashrafi. "The program has been a big success," he said.
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, renewable energy, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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