The green blade: Local firm finds kilowatts in the sky

"This is real stuff," says 36-year-old Albemarle entrepreneur Sandy Reisky. He talking about wind power, long known for operating without water or pollution, and he says it's now cost-competitive with coal and natural gas. The Department of Energy predicts that within 12 years, five percent of the American electrical market will come from wind turbines.

Reisky's firm, Green Light Energy, wants a piece of that.

For three years, Reisky has been signing 40-year leases in windy tracts– mostly with farmers in the American midwest. He's currently working on a 67-turbine wind farm in Kansas and says each of its towers will be 240 feet tall with blades longer than the wing of a 747.

Wind technology has come a long way since the 1970s when ultra-noisy wind-farms became famous as bird-whackers. Today's turbines, Reisky says, spin slowly– "like a hand of a clock on steroids– not at all like a helicopter."