Printed on: November 11, 2012

Wind power in Bonneville and Bingham

By Alex Stuckey

The presence of wind turbines east of Idaho Falls has sparked controversy not just in Bonneville and Bingham counties, but across the state.

Proponents contend the clean energy creates jobs and supplements landowners' incomes.

Opponents point to decreased property values, adverse effects on wildlife, lack of oversight, unreliability and federal subsidies as reasons to terminate the turbines.

Wind's federal tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of generation sold is on the chopping block this year. Some say the industry will collapse without it. Others are fighting for just a few more years of federal assistance.

Eight legislative members of Idaho's Wind Energy Task Force -- created this year -- will study the facts of wind energy during the next two years to recommend its future in the state.

By The Numbers

Here's a look at eastern Idaho's wind energy industry by the numbers:

Wind turbines in Bonneville and Bingham counties: 215

Wind farms east of Idaho Falls: 4 -- Wolverine Creek, Goshen North, Meadow Creek and Horse Butte.

Farmers and landowners benefiting from the turbines: 48

Each wind farm's wind energy potential:

Wolverine Creek: 64.5 megawatts

Goshen North: 124.5 megawatts

Meadow Creek: 119.7 megawatts

Horse Butte: 57.6 megawatts

One megawatt powers about 650 average Idaho homes. If the wind is blowing at optimum strength, then each farm's energy potential will be reached every second. But a wind farm rarely runs its turbines at full strength.

Where the energy goes:

Wolverine Creek and Meadow Creek: eastern Idaho

Goshen North: eastern Idaho and California

Horse Butte: 24 UAMPS members in five states – Utah, California, Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada