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Western ND Wind Farms Provide Power to Grand Forks Area

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Wind turbine farms will be built in the western part of the state later this year. That energy will produce most of the power we use here in Grand Forks.

Although we'll be using the energy generated from a wind farm, you won't find any turbines around Grand Forks because of the Red River Valley's low, flat ground.

You may not realize it, but next time you turn on a lamp or use your stove, some of the energy used to power those products comes from a life size wind-mill.

"You can't tell at your house whether its actually electrons that came from the wind farm or whether they came from the coal fire power plant," said mechanical engineer, Jay Haley.

Jay Haley is a local wind energy expert. He says there are a lot of coal fire power plants in North Dakota. but the advantages of wind farms trump emission-fueled plants.

"The number one goal is to have clean environmentally friendly electricity, the other goal is jobs," said Haley.

Construction to build one of these farms can add up to 200 full time jobs, and North Dakota plans on adding three of these wind farms in 2012.

"Creates more jobs, more manufacturing jobs, more higher level jobs, than a coal fired power plant would," said Haley.

The energy made from these wind farms doesn't just reach North Dakota residents either. In fact, more energy is sent to other states like Minnesota and South Dakota than used here.

"North Dakota exports about 60 percent of the power that we generate in the state, that includes the hydro-plants, the coal plants, and the wind power," said Haley.

South Dakota has better, higher altitude land for farms but the wires needed to power the electricity aren't there.

"We have better access to transmission lines because you can't build a wind farm in the middle of nowhere where there's no wires. The wires have to already be there in order to build your wind farm and ship your electricity to the marketplace," said Haley.

Europe is currently the leader for wind farms, but the US isn't far behind.

It depends how many wind turbines are used to make a farm, but it averages from 6 to 18 months to get one up and running.