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Capturing the Wind’s Power for Later Use

As recently reported in BusinessWeek, a coalition of more than 100 municipal utilities in Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas (backed by funding from the Department of Energy) is spending $200 million to build a 268-megawatt facility outside of Dallas Center, Iowa, that will store excess wind power in sandstone underground. The Iowa Stored Energy Park will store the excess energy created by wind farms during periods of low demand so that it can be sold and used at a later time when demand - and prices - are higher. And, in West Texas, TXU Corp. along with Shell WindEnergy is installing windmills capable of producing 3,000 megawatts that will be connected to a wind storage facility in underground salt domes. Other CAES (compressed air energy storage) projects are being considered in New Mexico and along the Gulf Coast. In fact, the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that underground features capable of supporting this technology are present in more than 85 percent of the United States.

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