CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Officials at F.E. Warren Air Force Base plan to install two wind turbines to reduce energy costs, the first Air Force project of its kind in the continental United States.

The turbines could be operational by August and will eventually supply 7 to 10 percent of the base's electricity, project engineer Ken Davis estimated, or enough to power 522 homes a year.

Over 20 years, Warren could save more than $3 million.

"It makes economic sense," Davis said. "Wind is becoming competitive with fossil fuel."

Technology has improved enough to render wind turbines cost-effective, said Capt. Dustin Born, chief of maintenance engineering.

In addition, the base is an ideal location, on top of a ridge in a windy state, he said.

Research backed up the conclusion.

"You can't just spend a whole bunch of money on a wind turbine based on intuition," Davis said.

Since no airplanes are stationed at Warren, the turbines won't interfere with flight paths or day-to-day operations, he said. Also, the large size of the base affords plenty of space for the turbines.

Born said he looked into renewable energy sources to comply with an executive order, and he said if the project is successful, more turbines could appear at Warren and other bases and businesses.

"When the government supports something, usually the private industry follows," he said.

Funding for the $2.5 million project came from the Department of Defense Energy Conservation Investment Program.

Air Force Space Command, the parent controlling military agency, and the base are joint partners in the project.

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