Snowkite Across North Dakota to Promote Wind Energy

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Sam and Jason are my bros. This is their latest crazy deal. A great and altruistic idea. . .

NORTH DAKOTA ATHLETES SNOWKITE ACROSS STATE TO PROMOTE WIND ENERGY

To promote renewable wind energy in North Dakota, two local athletes have announced the To-Cross-The-Moon Expedition (www.snowkiting.com/ToCrossTheMoon), a snowkiting journey across the state of North Dakota. The two-week-long expedition in January 2007 will include a complete traverse of the state of North Dakota via the non-motorized, wind-powered sport of snowkiting.

Snowkiting is a fast-growing sport where skiers/snowboarders are pulled by giant paraglider-like canopies. North Dakota — with its flat, treeless landscapes and legendarily windy and snowy winters — is a perfect venue for the sport.

“North Dakota needs to develop its tremendous wind energy potential,” said Roger Johnson, Agriculture Commissioner, North Dakota Department of Agriculture. “To-Cross-The-Moon Expedition will help get that message out.”

Johnson, who is a vocal proponent of wind power, said North Dakota has the potential to be a leader in renewable energy. Johnson said long-term wind energy plans include exporting surplus power to neighboring states.

To-Cross-The-Moon’s goal is to raise awareness for the potential of wind power in North Dakota. The athletes — Sam Salwei and Jason Magness, both from Grand Forks, N.D. — also hope to bring positive national attention to North Dakota’s assets, including its wide open spaces, its opportunities for recreation, and, most importantly, the state’s endless and unrelenting Great Plains wind.

“We want to help exemplify the vast amount of wind that North Dakota has in a tangible way,” said Salwei. “North Dakota can be a leader in the renewable and clean energy source of wind power.”

To-Cross-The-Moon snowkites will serve as moving billboards, with the expedition’s logos and messages aloft 70 feet in the air on giant nylon sails.

The expedition will be a self-supported: Salwei and Magness will travel self-sufficiently, hauling equipment in backpacks and sleeping out in temperatures that may drop below zero degrees.

Accompanying the athletes on the traverse, representatives from Ozone Kites will roughly follow the route in a van to hold snowkiting clinics throughout the state. These free demo clinics — to be held in towns including Williston, New Town, Bismarck, Yates and Grand Forks — will include wind-theory introduction, kite flying lessons, and information on how to get involved with the local snowkite community.

North Dakota has been called the “Saudi Arabia of Wind.” The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., concluded that North Dakota has the greatest wind resource of any of the lower 48 states.

North Dakota is ranked No. 1 in wind energy potential in the United States, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The association says North Dakota could produce as much as 34 percent of the nation’s electricity needs from wind power alone if the right infrastructure was built.

But despite the state’s wind resource, North Dakota fell from 13th place in 2004 for wind energy production to 16th place in 2005. To-Cross-The-Moon hopes to turn this trend around.

The environmental benefits of wind-generated electricity are increasingly recognized by those who favor “green” sources of energy. There are no harmful emissions or combustion byproducts from wind energy.

“In addition to the environmental advantages, the development of large-scale wind generation farms in North Dakota would create new industry and new jobs in our home state,” Salwei added.

Landowners benefit through leasing of wind rights and property for development.

“It’s a win-win all around,” said Salwei. “We need to show that to the world.”

For more information see: (www.snowkiting.com/ToCrossTheMoon) or call Expedition Leader Sam Salwei at (218) 791-8421 or kiteND@gmail.com

By
Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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