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Researchers look to see if Lake Michigan feasible for windmills

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News Ellsworth,Wisconsin 54011 http://www.piercecountyherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/23/0613/windmill_12.jpg?itok=cvnaVb37
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Researchers look to see if Lake Michigan feasible for windmills
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

MUSKEGON, Mich. - Researchers are getting their first data from a vessel that measures average wind speeds high above Lake Michigan. The idea is to see if it's viable to put high-tech windmills in the lake, and convert its strong breezes into electricity.

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Arnold Boezaart at Grand Valley State University says the initial data looks promising. In June, the research boat recorded average wind speeds of 22-miles-an-hour at 410-feet above the water. And speeds of 15-to-20 are commercially viable for wind power generation. Previous studies measured wind from a much lower angle - but until now, there's been no data to reflect wind speeds at the heights where a turbine's blades would spin.

We Energies, the Sierra Club, the state of Michigan, and the U.S. Energy Department have been funding the study. But a lawsuit in Michigan recently cut off that state's share of the project. Former Governor Jim Doyle had a task force look into the prospect of generating wind power off Lake Michigan - and the Public Service Commission found in 2008 that more studies were needed. The study uses a platform boat called the Wind-Sentinel. It's now in the middle of Lake Michigan. And it will be someplace else next year - but the location has not been determined.

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