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Texas firm to conduct wind energy tests near Mabton

MABTON - Hoping to emulate the success of other energy companies already in the wind business near here, Horizon Energy of Houston, Texas received permission from Yakima County officials last week to establish weather towers 15 miles south of Mabton.

Tyson Utt is Horizon's project manager for the Northwest. "We're in the process of researching the possibility of wind towers," Utt said by phone from Horizon's Portland, Ore. office. He said four "met" poles - short for meteorological - will be established near Mabton in the next couple of months.

Utt said the poles will not only tell Horizon how fast the wind blows through the area, but how often and from what direction.

Once the testing poles are established they will provide wind measurements for three years.

The testing near Mabton will determine whether there's enough wind energy potential to make it worthwhile for Horizon to lease lands in the Horse Heaven Hills area near Bickleton and set up wind farms.

Horizon's wind test should pass with flying colors if the past is any indication.

Just two years ago PPM Energy of Portland, Ore. dedicated a 15,000-acre wind farm near Bickleton that produces enough energy to power 60,000 homes.

Utt said Horizon has been watching the progress.

"It shows there is a compatible use for agriculture and wind farms," Utt said of existing wind machines sitting on farmland near Bickleton. "This (Horizon's possible wind farm) is really about building upon that success."

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