Copyright 2008, Traffic World, Inc.
Windmills and new-era power generators usually aren''t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of rail yards, but Norfolk Southern Railway just put in its second wind-powered turbine to generate electricity.
NS said the 100-foot-tall, 50-kilowatt turbine at its North Kansas City, Mo., yard will cover the power needs for a wastewater treatment plant there.
That follows a first wind turbine it put in service last year at its Bellevue, Ohio, yard. Both are supplied by a Boulder, Colo., firm called Entegrity Wind Systems, and more could be on the way. "We are currently assessing the feasibility of turbines at other locations," said NS spokesman Rudy Husband.
Placing them is not always an easy choice. NS previously considered installing one at Enola, Pa., outside Harrisburg, but since that location was near a bird sanctuary the company opted not to try to build a tower with its giant rotor blades there.
The turbine at North Kansas City could generate more than 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, NS said. It is connected into the local power grid, Husband explained, rather than directly into the treatment plant, to generate enough power to offset what the plant draws from the area''s electrical utility.
"We do comprehensive wind profile assessments in the areas under consideration for turbines," he said, "and Bellevue and North Kansas City were selected because sufficient wind currents are prevalent."
The wind generators are one of a range of measures NS is taking, along with other railroads, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. NS has also replaced lighting at many buildings, investing in low-power bulbs that can sharply cut electrical bills.
All large railroads are also updating their locomotive fleets over time with cleaner burning engines, and adding shutoff devices so older ones won''t sit idling for hours.