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A two-year study conducted by Atlanta-based utility Southern Company and the Georgia Institute of Technology has identified several conditions potentially favorable for wind power generation off the coast of Georgia - although high costs and regulatory issues still must be resolved, Southern Company notes.

Launched in 2005, the joint study examined a variety of factors - including wind resources, technology, siting, environmental, weather conditions, permitting and economics - associated with sites off Georgia's coast. Average wind speeds at those sites measure about 16 miles per hour (mph) to 17 mph, according to the study, and the water in the area is relatively shallow, possibly facilitating the installation of a wind farm foundation.

The study found that existing electrical substations on Jekyll Island and Tybee Island are the two locations with the best potential for connecting power from an offshore wind farm to the transmission grid.

However, Southern Company adds, based on today's prices for wind turbines, the 20-year levelized cost of electricity produced from an offshore wind farm would be significantly higher than the current production costs from existing power generation facilities.

"We continue to believe that renewable energy resources, including wind, need to be a part of our energy supply portfolio," says Leonard Haynes, executive vice president for supply technologies, renewables and demand-side planning at Southern Company. "We will continue to pursue this and other renewable energy options that allow us to provide reliable and affordable electricity to our customers."

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