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07/10/2008 ~ In a partnership with the University of Florida (UF), Keys Energy Services (KEYS) recently assisted in the installation of a wind observation tower that will be used to collect high quality meteorological information during tropical storms and hurricanes.

As part of its storm-hardening initiatives, the Florida Public Service Commission directed all electric utilities to participate in collaborative university research on hurricane wind effects. The partnership with UF is a long-term effort to collect data from hurricane force wind impacts on electric utility infrastructures.

Locations for the tower sites were selected in cooperation with UF, and include utility properties as well as other state and private property. The wind observation tower within KEYS’ Service Area was erected on the United States Navy Property at Trumbo Point.

The data collection instruments for the wind observation tower are mounted on 46-foot concrete poles, self-contained, solar powered and require no external power source, and were designed to remain stable and operational in hurricane winds up to 200 miles-per-hour.

The wind observation tower is part of a larger regional network of 21 towers which will assist in measuring overland ground level wind behavior during the landfall of storms. The wind network will also report meteorological data to an online database via cellular network in real-time 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. UF plans on increasing the network to 50 towers by the start of the 2009 hurricane season.

The cost of sighting each observation tour is $25,000, with KEYS providing approximately $3,600 in in-kind donations related to the installation of the tower within its service area. In return for KEYS assistance, UF provided unlimited access to the real-time and historical data collected by the network. The meteorological information will be used for determining when it is safe for crews to work in the field before and after a storm and for the monitoring of day-to-day weather conditions.

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