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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Cool Fix for a Hot Planet

Air Date: Week of

Built in honor of Earth Day in 2005, the four wind turbines at the Guantanamo Bay navy base cut annual energy costs and carbon emissions by $1.2 million dollars and 13 million pounds, respectively. (Photo: Kathleen T Rhem, US Navy)

Cutting prison energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions is a breeze with wind power. Living on Earth's Emily Guerin reports.


YOUNG: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Jeff Young. Just ahead—natural history takes flight with an antique egg collection—but first this Cool Fix for a Hot Planet from Emily Guerin.


GUERIN: It takes a lot of energy to keep a prison running 24-seven. Annual electricity bills in the millions have government officials looking for ways to cut costs. Now some are turning to wind as a solution.

Prisons are often sited in remote locations. Those windy islands or hilltops are well suited for turbines, avoiding the “Not in My Backyard!” opposition that bogs down other wind projects.

In 2005, the federal prison in Victorville, California became the country’s first to use wind energy. A single turbine provides all the electricity for one of the sites’ four prison complexes, and 15 percent for another. Now, Texas, Virginia and Massachusetts are considering powering their jails with wind, and selling excess electricity back to the grid.

The Navy also began to harness the wind five years ago at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Before installing four turbines, Guantanamo spent more than 30,000 dollars a day on diesel fuel to run generators. Today the wind farm provides up to 12 percent of the base’s electricity. It seems that at a military base or a prison, the answer to reducing energy bills could be blowing in the wind.

That’s this week’s Cool Fix for a Hot Planet. I’m Emily Guerin.



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