Winds of change are blowing

Posted on October 28, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Tom Content in the Wisconsin State Journal:

We Energies proposal in Columbia County runs into resistance over turbine noise, cost

We Energies has run into some headwinds in its bid to build the biggest wind farm in the state.

The Glacier Hills Wind Park project in Columbia County would consist of 90 turbines rising at least 400 feet above corn fields near the village of Friesland, northeast of Madison.

The Milwaukee utility proposed the project, its second large wind farm, as part of an expansion of renewable energy to comply with a state law that passed with bipartisan support in 2006. The law calls for wind turbines and other renewable energy systems to power 10% of the state’s electricity by 2015.

But this project has stirred more organized opposition than the utility’s first big wind project in Fond du Lac County.

Glacier Hills is being challenged by a fellow wind power developer and a property rights group concerned about the impact of turbines on nearby property owners.

Raising financial concerns about the project, pegged to cost up to $364 million to $435 million, is Invenergy LLC of Chicago.

The company is the developer of the Forward Wind Energy Center in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties, and it says it could build a project in Brown County that would generate as much power as Glacier Hills but be less costly for We Energies ratepayers.

Though exact cost estimates for the Invenergy proposal are confidential, Invenergy claims its proposal could save We Energies customers $50 million or more over 30 years, compared with the We Energies plan.

Invenergy has proposed a wind farm called Ledge Wind south of Green Bay. “The construction cost of Ledge Wind will be borne by Invenergy’s shareholders and will not be borne by (utility) ratepayers, as would be the case with Glacier Hills,” said Mike Leaman of Invenergy.

We Energies says its project is cost-effective over the long-term, and it noted that it ran into a series of delays with its first wind farm, Blue Sky Green Field, first proposed in 2004, when the original developer of that project failed to complete the wind farm and ending up selling it to the Milwaukee company.

In addition, Andy Hesselbach, the Glacier Hills project manager for We Energies, noted that Invenergy has not yet submitted a detailed application for its project, meaning it could not be built as quickly as Glacier Hills.


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