OURAY – After collecting four months worth of data from the anemometer placed at the Ouray County 4-H Event Center, the future of wind-generated power in the Uncompahgre River Valley’s does not look promising.
Thanks to a Colorado State University Anemometer Loan Program, a year-long wind study is being conducted to help determine if wind power generation near Ridgway is feasible. County Facilities Manager Will Clapsadl presented results from the ongoing study during Monday’s meeting of the Ouray County Commissioners. According to Clapsadle, data collected so far indicates the location is a poor wind resource. According to a summary of the results written by Mike Kostrzewa, senior research associate at CSU, a typical home-powering wind turbine, such as a Skystream turbine, would require wind that averages 8-miles-per-hour to help power a home. The average wind speed recorded at the site so far indicates it would take approximately 125 years for a wind turbine to pay back its cost in energy savings, Kostrzewa concluded.
“An approximate 125-year payback doesn’t sound too encouraging,” Clapsadl said, but “take it with a grain of salt,” because the outlook could change in the spring, when there’s typically more wind.
Despite discouraging results, the commissioners generally agreed that the CSU program is worthwhile and that data collected so far has been helpful.
“I am impressed with the detail given in this analysis,” Commissioner Keith Meinert said, while looking over Kostrzewa’s report. “There is some good information here and I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions yet. Once we get the final data, we will be able to disseminate this kind of detail to other people in the valley who might have wondered about the economics of putting in an ag-based or home-based wind generator. This will give them good information.”
Clapsadl said that he hopes the spring and summer months will bring better wind power possibilities. If they do, he would like to install a small wind turbine at the County Road and Bridge building. “I am hoping that might come into play if we have a higher rating for the spring and summer months,” he said.
The commissioners and Clapsadl agreed that the program is generating useful information at no cost to the county.
Commissioners Prepare for State Budget Cuts
After participating in state budget discussions at recent Colorado Counties Inc. and Club 20 meetings, Ouray Commissioner Heidi Albritton told her fellow boardmembers on Monday that the county should prepare and “find opportunities” to communicate with the public about tough budget decisions.
“A lot of the discussion at Club 20 right now is that the state budget shortfall is $1 billion,” Albritton said. “This is up from $600 million a year before. As a result everybody is trying to figure out whose programs are going to get slashed. We need to be prepared. It’s going to be a real different landscape after this [legislative] session.”
From those discussions, Albritton concluded there are a lot of tough, state-level decisions ahead, including a possible cut to Region 10’s Enterprise Zone Tax Credit program, and new taxes on the Internet, soda and candy. “One of the really upsetting things were school closures…and the state will no longer be funding large portions of higher ed,” she said. “We are at a point right now that some of our basic services aren’t going to happen if we can’t figure out how to streamline.”
She said officials across the state are looking at the state’s budget crisis in one of two ways – revenue enhancement or program cuts.
“To get to a billion dollars, it is going to have to be both,” Albritton said. “It was kind of a discouraging session and it is a depressing time to be in government. We have to find opportunities to communicate to the public and prepare them.”