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Friday, May 7, 2010 - 9:10am

Southern Co. Seeks Leases To Study Wind

Southern Company is asking the U.S. Interior Department for ocean leases off the coasts of Jekyll Island and Savannah to erect research towers to study the feasibility of building offshore wind turbines

The energy giant wants to construct meteorological towers to measure wind speeds and directions, hurricane resistance and other data to determine if ocean wind is viable alternative energy option in Georgia.

Southern Company and Georgia Tech already studied wind conditions a few years ago. Company spokeswoman Valerie Hendrickson says, that study found wind conditions favorable five-miles offshore.

"What we found is that it's not favorable closer in, so based on that study, we're going to continue to research," Hendrickson says. "Based on the research findings, we're pursuing potential development of lower speed and more hurricane tolerant wind turbine designs."

Average wind speeds farther offshore were 16 to 17 miles per hour.

Even if the new research proves favorable to wind, Hendrickson said the company still would have to overcome economic and regulatory hurdles to building turbines