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Windy days in Georgia

It doesn’t take much to realize that finding energy resources (let’s just say oil for example) is becoming a bigger and bigger issue – with a bigger price tag attached to it, as this summer’s gas prices have shown.

Southern Co., the umbrella company that owns Georgia Power, is being proactive about it, along with some help from a couple coastal Georgia islands.

Southern Co. is currently looking into ways to make renewable energy right here, off the coast of Georgia.

The company recently commissioned a study, done by Georgia Tech researchers, on wind energy off Tybee and Jekyll islands. The hope is that the study will prove a wind farm could generate enough electricity to be financially feasible, the AJC reported.

It’s not close to happening – yet. While there are wind farms inland in several U.S. states, offshore wind farms don’t exist – again, yet – but are being utilized overseas, off the coast of Europe.

The U.S. Dept. of the Interior did, however, recently approve Southern Co. to move forward with the study and lease three plots off Tybee to continue testing whether or not a wind farm might work, said the AJC, which also reported the study could take three years and $3 million.

Some of the cons are the fact that wind is intermittent and doesn’t always blow enough to create electricity when it’s needed and, because of that, it might not be cost competitive, the AJC reported. Ideal locations for a wind farm are usually not in cities – prime places that need the energy source – and there are also concerns about the aesthetics of the turbines, noise and the impact they might have on migratory birds.

But we think the pros are worth continuing with the study.

Wind farms provide a clean fuel source that doesn’t create any pollutants. The government has also provided inshore states with wind farm tax breaks during the last decade. Plus, wind is a continuous resource that won’t ever run out, not to mention it’s a domestic energy source we’re able to create right here in our own state.

We hope there’s enough windy days during the study to prove coastal Georgia might be the ideal location for the country’s first-ever offshore wind farm.

Jessica Holthaus for the Bryan County News

July 12, 2008

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