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Valley lacks good winds for turbines

There are a lot of wind turbines going up around the state and the country to generate electricity. Are there any plans locally to do that? Is it strictly a matter of locating them where there's a lot of wind, or are there other major considerations? I would guess one of those turbines is pretty darn expensive.

— Bill, via email

Beats the heck out of us, Bill, so we went to those in the business of power — the good folks at Pacific Power, who keep the electricity humming through the lines to juice up all the fancy electronic gizmos we have here at the Worldwide Headquarters of Since You Asked International.

The short answer to your first question is, no, Pacific Power doesn't currently have plans to build wind turbines in the Medford area. The reasons are related to your other two questions.

First and foremost, you've got to have wind — and consistent wind. Sadly for kite fliers and wind-power advocates, wind is not in ready supply in the Rogue Valley (think of those stagnant inversion days in both the winter and summer).

Yes, wind turbines are expensive: According to Windustry, a wind-energy industry site, most of the commercial-scale turbines built today cost roughly $3.5 million installed. The good news is, once they are installed, the "fuel" is virtually free.

But you need a steady supply of that fuel, and that's not available in the Rogue Valley. Data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows, for the most part, what it terms "marginal" potential in the Medford area for wind-energy development. Southwestern Oregon is largely rated as marginal to poor, save for the area's mountain ridges, which are unlikely sites for wind turbines for any number of reasons.

If you want to see that data on wind potential, check out the map at tinyurl.com/7pv7vfa.

Our electric experts note that if a customer or another company were to develop wind power in the area, Pacific Power could potentially purchase the generated power. But we wouldn't hold our wind ... er, breath ... on that happening anytime soon.

Send questions to "Since You Asked" by emailing youasked@mailtribune.com.