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Wind energy loads Western power grid

Media and NREL photographers record the installation of a new 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbine at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado on August 21, 2009. UPI/Gary C. Caskey | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/544240fe0ba50972a3a812dd5edd293d/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Media and NREL photographers record the installation of a new 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbine at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado on August 21, 2009. UPI/Gary C. Caskey | License Photo

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Aging transmission lines and power stations in western U.S. states are loaded to the limit with power from wind turbines, authorities said.

Future wind projects mean the region's electrical grid must be expanded, which won't be without controversy, said Brent Fenty, who heads the Oregon Natural Desert Association, which is tracking transmission proposals.

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"There's no question that we are changing the face of the state right now. And the important part is that we do that in a way that is responsible and reflects our values," Fenty told The (Portland) Oregonian.

Hundreds more wind turbine projects are planned for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, most of them on private land. New power lines to carry that energy, however, must be built on public lands and carry a long-term impact, said Erik Fernandez, spokesman for the group Oregon Wild.

"If we do this the wrong way, there's going to be a large price tag environmentally," Fernandez said.

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