West Coast utility tests wind power

Electricity generated by a propeller atop an 80-foot steel tower here, a few miles in from the Oregon coast, is expected to be flowing to customers of Pacific Power & Light Company by the end of 1980.

Constrution has begun on the $700,000 project, which will mount a three-bladed propeller unit capable of producing 200 to 300 kilowatts of power under varying wind conditions below 60 miles an hour. At wind speeds of 60 m.p.h. and above, the unit will automatically shut down.

The propeller unit is one manufactured by WGT Energy Systems Inc. of Buffalo, N.Y. It will pivot atop the tower as the wind direction changes.

This pioneering project by Pacific Power will provide data on the cost of wind-generated power, the environmental acceptability of wind turbines and the manner in which wind generated electricity can be integrated into local power systems. At the same time company engineers are evaluating other locations within the system's multistate service area as possible sites for wind-generation.

This step, according to Pacific Power president Eldon Drennan, "is an important part in our company's efforts to develop renewable sources of energy for a generation of electricity to meet out customer's growing needs."

Mr. Drennan also pointed out that conservation efforts, new small-sized hydro plants, wind turbines, geothermal steam, and passive solar energy all are part of "a large pool of untapped electric energy."

The company plans "to develop as much of this [alternative] power as we can between now and the end of the decade" but such sources still cannot meet all of the growing demand for energy, Mr. Drennan warned.

That is why Pacific Power ultimately will need more "major thermal plants down the road, either our own or units shared with other utilities," the executive added.

Pacific Power recently filed applications with the state of Wyoming for permits in connection with the planned construction of a new generating plant in Gillette, Wyo.

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