ACU faculty members particpate in wind farm dedication

For immediate release

December 10, 1998

ABILENE, Texas - Three Abilene Christian University faculty members, Ron McQueen, Marge Wood and Jim Cooke, were invited to attend the ribbon cutting at the York Research Facility and Texas Utilities' wind farm near Big Spring on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The project is due to be completed and fully operational in the spring with 46 wind turbines producing enough electricity to power 7,300 homes for a year.

McQueen and Cooke teach in ACU's Industrial Technology Department. Wood, who is a member of the American Wind Energy Association and is on the board of the Texas Solar Energy Society, said the three were invited to the dedication for phase one of the 34,000-kilowatt, $40 million Big Spring WindPower Project, which will include the largest wind turbines in America.

A ceremony at the site east of Big Spring featured:

* Startup of the first wind turbines

* State leaders support of "clean & green" energy

* Start of construction for the Vestas V-66s, the largest wind turbines.

Four of the Vestas V-47 wind turbines were activated during the ceremony to begin generating electricity to TU Electric customers. The latest technology is used to harness one of the oldest forms of energy, as the 290-foot-high turbines feature microprocessors that automatically adjust the blades to catch the most wind.

"We believe that wind energy provides a solution to the requirement of clean, renewable energy sources in Texas at affordable costs," said Robert M. Beningson, Chairman of York Research Corporation.

Pat Wood III, chairman of the Public Utility Commission, said "Texans have overwhelmingly told their electric companies they want more renewable energy because they want clean air."

When asked in October whether their utility should invest in renewables, 96 percent of TU Electric customers surveyed said yes. By a 10 to 1 margin, customers said they would be willing to pay at least one dollar more per month for energy from renewable sources such as wind power.

"I applaud TU Electric for being a pioneer in the process of asking its customers what they want, and now for being a pioneer in giving its customers what they want: clean, home-grown wind power," Wood said.

The balance of the project is scheduled to be completed in February 1999 when four V-66 wind turbines go into service, each standing 371 feet high. The rotor diameter is 216 feet. Each V-66 turbine will generate 1,650 kilowatts.

"We're excited about the wind farm, especially the big ones, the V-66s," said Tim Blackshear, Big Spring mayor. "This will be a great attraction for the area."

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Last update: Dec. 29, 1998