TOOELE — The desert of western Utah is about to join the natural energy revolution.
The Tooele Army Depot is installing a single wind turbine in the middle of its base to supply what leaders hope will be 25 percent of needed electricity.
The $3.8 million project is expected to be up and running by July 1, according to base spokeswoman Kathy Anderson. Turbine blades have sailed from China to a port in Long Beach, Calif., and are being sent to Tooele. A cement pad already has been poured above the base rifle range.
"The wind funnels right through the middle of the valley between Stockton and Tooele," Anderson said.
The single turbine was approved in 2007, but more than two years of testing were required to ensure that the site would get enough wind. If the first spinning system is successful, other turbines may be installed, Anderson said.
The turbine will stand 225 feet tall, and each blade will measure 130 feet in length. The system will produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 300 to 400 homes, according to a depot news release. Savings on energy costs could reach $125,000 per year.
The plan is funded through the Department of the Army Energy Conservation Investment Program, which looks to build renewable energy projects for the Army.
Other renewable energy projects in Utah include a wind farm at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon and another in Milford.
The turbine at Tooele Army Depot is expected to be the first of its kind in the county, although high winds prevail atop the Stansbury Mountains. High peaks are both hard to access and far from major power lines, so they have not been tapped for renewable energy potential.