Medieval Italian town blows hot on wind power

Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:45am EDT
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By Eleanor Biles

TOCCO DA CASAURIA, Italy (Reuters) - Wind has never been a commodity in short supply for the medieval town of Tocco da Casauria in Italy's central Apennine mountains.

Nestled between two of the country's highest mountain ranges, the Maiella and Gran Sasso, Tocco da Casauria sits in a natural wind tunnel and residents have decided to make it work for them.

Now four wind turbines rise from the skyline next to the town which can trace its roots back to a Roman settlement and which has a medieval monastery that was once the most powerful in the rugged Abruzzo region.

Traditionally the 2,700 inhabitants of Tocco have farmed olives, wine and kept sheep but now they are looking to the future and turning their hand to renewable energy.

"Using renewable energy sources, we manage not only to preserve the environment but also to produce more energy than we need, therefore freeing up earnings and funds which become available for our administrative activities and services" said mayor Riziero Zaccagnini.

The turbines have been so successful that Tocco now makes money from electricity as it produces some 50 percent more than it needs. It has earned close to 170,000 euros ($236,000) per year by selling its electricity, money that the local town government ploughs back into the community.

A local school is being restructured to withstand seismic activity and residents no longer have to pay local taxes or payments on rubbish collection.

And the inhabitants have grown to love the turbines.   Continued...

<p>Windmills are seen at an eolic farm in Tocco da Casauria, central Italy October 14, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>