Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) has received a $1.25 million contract from the state of Wyoming, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to open the first commercial wind turbine certification and test facility in the United States.

The new facility reflects the growing popularity of wind-generated power, which, with a 5-year growth rate of 32 percent, makes it the fastest-growing energy source in the world. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind energy projects are currently installed or being installed in more than 30 states nationwide.

UL has retained Distributed Generation Systems Inc. (DISGEN), a commercial wind farm developer located in Lakewood, Colo., to coordinate the design and construction of the project.

The testing facility marks a major milestone in the collaborative relationship between UL and DOE that began in 1997. UL's National Wind Turbine Certification and Test Site is to be located about eight miles south of Cheyenne in rural Laramie County, and is expected to be operational in late 2004. The facility will be equipped to accommodate both utility interconnected and non grid connected turbines.

“My hope is that this project will bring additional knowledge and technological expertise to Cheyenne and Wyoming,” said Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

“UL is committed to being a world leader in the safety and performance certification of wind energy products,” said Bill Colavecchio, UL's general manager of renewable energy. “Our state-of-the-art wind testing site will allow us to bring wind turbine testing in-house and eliminate the red tape often associated with conducting certification evaluations in a commercial wind farm.”

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