Can Winslow be a demonstration city for alternative energy?

Alternative energy could bring jobs, events, tourism and relocation to Winslow. APS has offered to help put the facts out on what our options are.

APS representatives meet with City of Winslow staff at the La Posada hotel.

APS representatives meet with City of Winslow staff at the La Posada hotel.

Winslow is not really windy enough to deserve the nickname "Winds blow." At least that is what APS representatives would say if you asked them about a wind energy farm for the area. APS said if Winslow were to explore alternative energy, it should consider combining sources and looking at more recent energy developments.

Last week, APS representatives met with staff from the City of Winslow, interested residents, the school district and public library to discuss what could be done to inform Winslow residents about alternative energy. The meeting began with APS offering to supply local teachers with displays, presentations, books and potentially a demonstration project.

"Alternative energy will appear in the AIMS tests for the first time beginning next year," said Peter Johnston, manager of Technology Development for APS.

For the past few years, APS has been putting together its material for Road 2 Renewable Energy program. Winslow Unified School District has been contacted already and its curriculum adviser will be told about the program. Johnston said APS worked with curriculum advisors around the state when designing the educational outreach program.

"These programs are approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission and paid for by APS customers," he said.

This school program was designed to teach youth about alternative energy and Arizonans will be seeing more of it in the future. Currently, the Arizona Corporation Commission requires a little over 1 percent of all energy created in Arizona to come from alternative sources, but by 2025, 15 percent of all energy must be from alternative sources.

Alternative energy is so far defined as: solar, wind, biomass, biogas, geothermal and hydroelectric.

"If Winslow is going to have alternative energy then we will need significant support from the community," said Winslow Mayor Allan Affeldt. "Perhaps the schools or library could have a demonstration project for people to look at."

Docia Bloc from the Winslow Public Library said she would like to stock information on alternative energy in the library so people may be able to do their own research. As for a physical demonstration, nothing has had time to materialize for the City or schools yet, but Winslow resident Lawrence Kenna, who was at the meeting, said he had installed a huge alternative energy system on his home.

"The APS website is an excellent resource to learning about how solar technology works," Kenna said.

Individual participation could catch on with other homeowners or the city of Winslow could look at a project of its own through energy incentives programs. Johnston said all the utility companies in Arizona are currently informing the incentives they all offer.

One such example Johnston gave is installing a passive solar water heater -- this collects direct heat from the sun to heat the water. APS will soon be offering a 50-cent per kilowatt saved rebate for the first year after installation.

"This could add up to about $1000 at the end of the year depending on how much you use it," Johnston said. "This is a good way to get reimbursed for purchasing it."

Johnston said APS will not be in the business of building central alternative power facilities and that other companies must do that and APS will pay them for the energy they create.

Potential sources of energy in Navajo County could be some solar and wind, but those are those most commonly assumed to be best sources, said Johnston. Other promising sources include: biomass from forest thinning projects; methane from sewage treatment plants or large livestock farms, and algae.

"APS just received a $9 million grant from the Department of Energy to begin research on algae use as a fuel," Johnston said. "With a certain type of algae with a high oil content -- We can produce in just one acre, about 6,000 gallons of oil which can be used as a biofuel."

Johnston said APS is considering using the Cholla Generating Station to pump the carbon dioxide exhaust, an environmental contaminant, into water already used by the facility. This process would produce the necessary condition for algae to grow and oxygen would be the byproduct of that. So pollutant is removed and used to create oxygen and a pollution-less fuel that can be used in existing vehicles. Biofuel can go straight into existing diesel engines. Leftover pressed algae can then be fed to livestock. Johnston uses this example as an indicator of a possible future for alternative energy.

Why spend a bunch of money on redoing the whole energy infrastructure when you can retain most of it and save money by just switching your fuel, he said. Algae can also be used to generate methane, so can landfills and even outhouses -- methane is the byproduct of rotting matter.

Affeldt said that since Winslow is looking at an upgrade of the sewage treatment plant, then perhaps they could incorporate methane harvesting into the design. This would generate electricity that could be used to operate the plant, making it more efficient and could save the City money from utility costs.

Affeldt asked the group what could be done soon to get a small demonstration going in a school, library or other highly visible area.

"A popular thing out now is a solar/wind power water fountain," Kenna said.

"That is something we could talk to the Standin' on the Corner Foundation about," Affeldt said. "It is such a popular spot it would get great attention."

Johnston said APS is more likely to help out with such project if there is greater visibility. To increase their visibility too, APS plans on hosting more renewable energy fairs in northern Arizona.

"Perhaps we could have one in Winslow?" Johnston said.

Those interested in receiving more information about renewable energy technology may contact APS Renewable Program Outreach Coordinator Janet Crow at (602) 250 -- 4990.

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