Wind Farm Springing up Along I-80

Wind Farm Springing up Along I-80

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John Hollenhorst ReportingA striking new landmark is becoming a reality on ranchland alongside Interstate 80 about an hour east of Salt Lake City. It's the latest attempt to harvest one of Wyoming's most inexhaustible resources – wind.

They're sprouting like tulips in the high desert. They are eighty of the biggest windmills anywhere and will make electricity from thin air. Wyoming has an inexhaustible supply of cheap fuel.

Don Miller, Construction Manager, F.P.L. Energy: "Absolutely. And the price never changes. The wind is always the same price."

Each windmill stretches 351 feet from ground to wingtip, almost as high as the Church Office Building in Salt Lake. Each blade carves a circle with a diameter nearly the length of a football field.

The 80 towers are being built in Wyoming, by a division of Florida Power and Light.

Don Miller, Construction Manager, F.P.L. Energy: "Since deregulation, we branched out into the wind industry and we have plants all over the united states right now."

Wyoming is notorious for its wind, of course, but there are places in Utah where it blows just about as hard. Still, there's nothing like this in the works right now in Utah. Wind-farm locations are chosen with clear criteria. They need strong winds at least a third of the time; optimum speed is 16 miles an hour. They need lots of land with willing landowners -- this project covers 45 square miles. And they need a place to put the electricity.

Don Miller, Construction Manager, F.P.L. Energy: "Which means you have to be reasonably close to transmission lines. And in addition to that there has to be capacity available on those lines to tap into."

With its location alongside Interstate-80, this wind farm will become a familiar sight to Salt Lake City travelers. And Utah will likely benefit from Wyoming's wind. Several municipalities in Utah have agreed to buy the electricity that comes from these towers. The Wyoming Wind Project will be completed by the end of the year.

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