Neighborhood wants more wind power use


Students looking for a way to reduce their carbon footprints now have another way to contribute to the environmental cause – using wind power.

While anyone can purchase wind power from Xcel Energy’s Windsource program, members of the Southeast Como Improvement Association ultimately want one-third of the neighborhood to sign up.

Justin Eibenholzl, environmental coordinator at SECIA, said the Windsource program provides 100 percent wind power for about $25 more per year than traditional energy sources – Eibenholzl related it to the cost of about one latte a month.

Windsource users pay an extra $3.53 per 100 kilowatts used, he said, and are required to commit to the program for one year.

He said 342 properties in the neighborhood were utilizing Windsource in October, but said the number is in constant flux because there is a high turnover of residents in the area.

“The discretion is all up to whoever pays the power bills,” Eibenholzl said.

While renters often pay their electric bill, he said if the landlord controls the bill, the tenants can ask for Windsource.

“Even students on a tight budget, if they are environmentally conscious, can scrape together a few bucks,” Eibenholzl said. He said if more people sign up, it could make Windsource more affordable down the line.

The Xcel Energy Web site states that purchasing one 100kw block of Windsource for one year has the same environmental benefits as not driving 2,400 miles.

Doug Tiffany, a research fellow in the University’s department of applied economics, studies energy production and said Minnesota is a great candidate for wind power energy.

He said the goal in using wind power is to reduce the consumption of coal – a non-renewable resource – and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Wind as a source of energy is catching on because people want to know how their energy is generated and are using it to express themselves, he said.

“2007 was a record year for installation of wind power in the U.S.,” Tiffany said. He also said there was a 45 percent increase in installations of wind turbines from the year before.

Minnesota is one of the forerunners, along with Texas and California, in using wind power for energy. Tiffany said the University of Minnesota- Morris campus has its own wind turbine that produces enough energy to supply half the campus’s energy.

“It’s positioning itself to be one of the greenest campuses in the country,” he said.

Andrew La Bonte, a biology junior and Como resident, said that he would sign up for Windsource now that he is aware of the program.

“Anything that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly is something that I would be interested in,” he said. “It’s a trend that is increasing and needs to increase.”