Wind Feasability Studies

Wind Energy

The Leech Lake Air Program is looking at all ways to decrease air pollution for the Leech Lake Reservation and those who reside here. Alternative energies, such as wind, will decrease our need for coal fired energy and lessen our impact on the environment.

In 2003 the Leech Lake Air Program initiated a 20 meter (64 foot) tower wind energy feasibility study in a consortium with the White Earth and Grand Portage Reservations and the Department of Energy. This study was conducted at the Chatfield Air Site near Boy River to see if wind energy can be captured and utilized for energy usage here at Leech Lake. At the end of the 1.5 year study it was deemed to properly analyze Leech Lake's wind resources that further study was needed.

In August of 2006 a 50 meter (164 foot) tower was installed at Northern Lights Casino. This tower will allow Leech Lake Air Quality Staff to better analyze the availability of wind energy. Instruments are located at 50, 40, and 30 meters to measure wind speeds and directions. This data is then fed to a data logger in which the data is downloaded once a month and sent to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for analysis. The tower will be unassembled August 2007.

At the end of the 50 meter project, data from both studies will be analyzed by the national Renewable Energy Laboratory and Seventh Generation Energy Systems. This information will indicate if we will continue onto the next steps of obtaining alternative energy in the form of wind. If wind energy is a viable option we will look into obtaining funding to install a wind turbine to supplement the energy consumption for the Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minnesota. Many of the factors determining the size of the wind turbine will be determined by the wind resource, energy load, and economic factors.

On average, one typical wind turbine can supply electricity needs to 300-500 homes. Over 4,600 megawatts of wind generating capacity is operating in the United States as of Fall 2006, providing enough energy to power a million homes. See maps of wind energy where you live here.

  • The cost of producing electricity from wind energy has decreased dramatically from 80 cents per kilowatt hour in 1980 to 4-6 cents today
  • Marginal wind 5 meters per second = 150 watts per meter squared
  • Outstanding wind 10 meters per second = 1200 watts per meter squared
  • Solar power on average 200-300 watts power meter squared

26 States currently have commercial wind energy systems. Over 1,700 mega watts have been installed since 2001. Minnesota, as of 2000, has a potential capacity of 294,700 mega watts. Tribes across the country are investing in wind energy. To see a map of the wind projects in Indian Country go to

Wind energy's most important environmental benefit is its lack of emissions of both air pollutants and greenhouse gases. A 10,000 megawatt wind tower generation power would eliminate from the atmosphere the following pollutants generated by fossil fuels:

  • 39,480,061,687 lbs of carbon dioxide
  • 163,520,000 lbs of acid rain causing sulfur dioxide
  • 60,480,000 lbs of smog causing nitrous oxides
  • 760 lbs of mercury that pollute our water bodies
  • 30,016,000,000 lbs of coal or a 1,000 mile long train
  • 4,500,000 barrels of oil per year

Division of Resource Management (218) 335-7400


To see other alternative sources of energy, including wind visit http://www.nrel.gov/applying_technologies/

Intertribal Council on Utility Policy for great Tribal wind information http://www.intertribalcoup.org/

National Renewable Energy Laboratory does a lot of wind research and is where Leech Lake has loaned out the 20m and 50m towers http://www.nrel.gov/wind/

Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
More info on wind energy, how you can buy it, and the benefits http://www.pca.state.mn.us/oea/energy/greenpower.cfm

Buy Wind Energy through your local utility

Beltrami Electric

Lake Country Power

Ottertail Power