May 042008

CSU is planning to develop a wind farm that will power the entire university with energy to spare.

The project’s lead researcher, Bill Farland, said the wind farm will run between 35 and 75 wind turbines with the capacity to generate 100 to 200 megawatts of power, on the university’s 11,000-acre Maxwell Ranch near the Wyoming border.

Farland said construction will not start for a couple of years.

The economic benefit CSU will retain from the wind farm’s operation is under speculation of investors and power authorities like Xcel and the Platte River Power Authority, Farland said.

“There is a need for us as a state to produce more renewable energy,” Farland said.

Farland notes Colorado’s goal to have 20 percent renewable energy in its portfolio standards in the coming years, and there is heightened demand for the green power.

“Power companies are interested in adding renewable energy to their portfolios,” he added.

Since 2001, the U.S. has increased wind energy production by more than 300 percent. In 2007, more than 20 percent of new electrical generating capacity in the U.S. came from wind, according to a White House report.

CSU President Larry Penley recognized the obvious inefficiency of energy deficiency when the wind doesn’t blow at Maxwell Ranch, Farland said.

“Electrical power has to be consumed at the exact same time it’s generated,” said Eric Sutherland, a community members who lends his time to encouraging lawmakers to inject more transparency into the renewable energy market.

Intermittent wind energy, which is especially unreliable during summer, requires that energy be generated by an alternative energy source such as coal fired or nuclear power plants.

Sutherland said the energy it takes to ramp up or ramp down a coal fired power plant cancels out much of the carbon emissions prevented by using wind energy.

He said wind farms would be more beneficial if their energy was backed up by a more expensive natural gas source.

“Natural gas turbines can turn their generation up or down very quickly,” he said.

As CSU prepares for its grand entrance into the world of wind, energy inefficiencies and business negotiations will continually be addressed.

Senior Reporter Kaeli West can be reached at

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