An agreement between power company Cleco Corp. and the town of Mandeville, inked in August, has resulted in a wind turbine pilot project, which goes on line today. The 60-foot high turbine, on the northern bank of Lake Pontchartrain, will provide test data to help the company take a first step in exploring one facet of alternative energy in Louisiana.

Cleco also is testing solar panel systems in its home base in Pineville and New Iberia. In addition, the company is building a research center that will house a biomass gasifer unit at Crowley in partnership with UL. The center will explore the conversion of biomass materials, such as woodchips, manure and byproducts of rice and sugarcane harvesting, for the production of fuel or other chemicals. Construction on the Cleco Alternative Energy Center, to be located in Crowley’s Industrial Park, is set to begin early next year with an April 2012 completion.

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