Wind power production presents an opportunity to diversify the agricultural economy, the backbone of many rural communities, and it also helps protect the environment by making use of a clean and green renewable source of energy. To promote and assist with wind energy projects throughout the state, the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University has been awarded a $419,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.Macomb, Illinois – June 1, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The foundation is the sole sponsor of the four-year project in which the IIRA, in cooperation with Western’s geography department, will record wind velocity from sites throughout Illinois. Landowners interested in knowing if their location has adequate wind to power a turbine can apply for the instruments used for measuring wind; a limited number of sites will be selected. According to Roger Brown, IIRA research associate and wind program coordinator, the data will be used to create a more detailed wind resource map for the state. “We anticipate that locally-owned wind power projects could be developed as a result of the data,” Brown explained. “This project will also contribute to a better understanding of wind quality throughout the state which could lead to more interest in community-based and individual projects.” According to the American Wind Energy Association, a wind energy system transforms the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical or electrical energy that can be “harvested” for practical use. Mechanical energy is most commonly used for pumping water in rural or remote locations, while wind electric turbines generate electricity for homes and businesses and for sale to utilities. A 10-kilowatt wind turbine can generate about 16,000 kilowatt-hours annually, more than enough to power a typical household. “This grant allows the Institute for Rural Affairs at Western to provide essential wind information to communities and landowners interested in installing wind turbines,” said James Mann, executive director of the Clean Energy Foundation. The foundation also recently awarded $175,000 to the Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative in Pike County for a local wind power project. The cooperative is installing a 1.65 megawatt turbine to generate pollution-free power for its members. Mann noted thqat in the last two years, the foundation has awarded a dozen grants totaling more than $1.5 million to advance community-based wind projects throughout Illinois.