Electric meters are running backwards as Rock Port, Missouri became the first town in the country to run on 100 percent wind power.
This article in the Maryville (MO) Daily Forum says the meters started moving in the other direction after this weekend when the four wind turbines (pictured on the right) on a hill just above the town started producing more electricity than residents were using:
“Rock Port officially declared its energy independence today,” said Tom Carnahan, president of the St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group that brought the Loess Hills Wind Farm to fruition.
Opening the official ceremonies celebrating the launch of the five-megawatt alternative energy system, Eric Chamberlain, project manager for Wind Capital’s Rock Port project, told the gathered crowd of several hundred residents, students and interested parties that the city’s wind turbines were not only generating the energy “Rock Port is using at this time, there is enough for another community this size.”
After remarks by Chamberlain, Rock Port Mayor Helen Jo Stevens, Carnahan, Missouri 6th District U.S. Rep. Sam Graves and Martin Wilkinson of John Deere Credit USA, the ceremony’s organizers brought out an oversized light switch — complete with a green toggle — and symbolically made Rock Port the nation’s first community to draw100 per cent of its electric energy requirements from a renewable source.
“We are now the No. 1 community for our percentage of renewable energy,” according to Chamberlain.
“Government, industry and private citizens all worked together to make Loess Hills,” Chamberlain said. He cited the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for its help in rebuilding an electrical substation at Rock Port and also the benefits derived from federal tax credits for alternative energy sources.
“But John Deere turned the possibility into reality,” Chamberlain said. The company signed on with Wind Capital Group to develop the 50.4-megawatt Cow Branch Wind Farm between Rock Port and Tarkio but had nixed early ideas for a smaller project to serve Rock Port only. When a new request for power bids that included language allowing consideration of alternative energy sources was distributed by the Rock Port City Council, that thinking changed.
This is the second of four wind projects Wind Capital Group has completed in Northwest Missouri. Carnahan says his company will need two important components to finish the other two: long-term renewal of the federal wind-energy tax credit and voter approval of a ballot measure this November in Missouri that will require the state to get a certain percentage of its energy from renewable sources.