Border Patrol looks to wind for energy

McALLEN, TX Ten small wind turbines will be installed on the roof of a maintenance building at Border Patrol's Del Rio sector headquarters.

"We've been looking at ways to minimize our energy usage," said Del Rio sector's Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Dean Sinclair. Sinclair hopes to cut the energy costs at the 24-hour operations hub by at least 7 percent.

Nearby Laughlin Air Force Base was the inspiration, Sinclair said. In December, the base finished a demonstration project — the first for the Department of Defense — installing six small wind turbines on a building. The project cost $39,000, according to the base Web site.

The Border Patrol's planned five-blade wind turbines are 8 1/2-feet tall and will each produce about 1 kilowatt per hour. Anything from a 5 mph breeze to gusts exceeding 100 mph will spin their blades.

Texas is the nation's leader in wind-generated power. Wind power nationwide generates enough energy to power 14.5 million average households, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Washington said the Border Patrol is trying to incorporate more energy efficient designs, such as more skylights to increase natural lighting, into many of its new border facilities.

"Del Rio is at the leading edge," said Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling.

Customs and Border Protection is seeking bids for the project and declined to comment on an estimated cost.

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