Building windmills, seized drugs prices
Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 9:11 pm
By The Associated Press
Windmills don’t just sprout from the earth wherever there’s a stiff breeze.
Curiosity about where windmills in the U.S. are manufactured — and how the massive contraptions get to the sites where they’re installed — inspired one of three questions in this edition of “Ask AP,” a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news.
If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to newsquestions(at)ap.org, with “Ask AP” in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question.
Whenever police make a drug bust, they always assign a dollar value to the captured stash. How do the authorities know the value of an illegal drug? Pot and cocaine don’t have price stickers, do they? And don’t the values fluctuate depending on scarcity?
Mount Wolf, Pa.
Law enforcement authorities use their own knowledge of the market to assign “street” values to drugs they seize. For one thing, they are often involved in making the purchases as part of undercover investigations. Informants also tell them how much drugs are selling for.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration keeps regional statistics for each quarter on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs being sold in different parts of the country. In Miami, for example, prices of marijuana are between $2,500 and $4,000 per pound. The DEA takes the lower-middle road and places a “street” value of about $3,000 per pound on pot. The same concept applies to other drugs.
AP Legal Affairs Writer
On a recent trip through eastern Oregon, we saw hundreds of new windmills generating electricity. Where are windmills like these manufactured? How are they shipped to their sites? And what does a windmill cost?
Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, has its North American headquarters based right there in your home city of Portland. Vestas manufactures its blades at a plant in Windsor, Colo., and the company recently picked Pueblo, Colo., as its site to build the towers.
GE Energy, part of General Electric Co., builds turbines at a manufacturing and assembly facility in Tehachapi, Calif., and buys blades from multiple suppliers. Spanish company Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA operates a blade manufacturing plant in Fairless Hills, Pa., Germany-based Siemens AG last year opened a blade plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Mitsubishi Power Systems Inc. christened a new blade and vane manufacturing center this summer in Orlando, Fla.
Turbines and blades are typically delivered to sites by truck, which is quite a sight to see. You don’t truly realize how large these things are until you pass wind tower sections on a highway. I often see them heading south on Interstate 29 here in South Dakota.
Although large commercial wind turbines can cost several million dollars apiece, you can buy a small wind turbine for a home or farm for $6,000 to $22,000 installed, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s Web site.
AP Business Writer
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Does the U.S. still have troops in Bosnia? If not, when were they withdrawn?
The last 150 U.S. troops left Bosnia in 2007, although a handful of Americans — mostly intelligence officers — remain at a NATO base near Sarajevo, the capital. They’re mostly focused on the search for war crimes suspects and on efforts to integrate the Bosnian army into the Western military alliance.
The U.S. had about 15,000 soldiers deployed among the 60,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force as of 1995, when a peace agreement ended the Bosnian war. The number of troops in Bosnia gradually declined until 2004, when a European policing force took over from NATO.
Associated Press Writer
Have questions of your own? Send them to newsquestions(at)ap.org.