Ritger-Preder wind turbine dedicated in Sheboygan County

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Wind |


From an article in The Sounder, Random Lake:

An open house [dedicated} . . . the 100-kilowatt wind turbine on the Preder farm west of Random Lake. The wind turbine was erected jointly by the Jeff and Kathy Preder family, and the Ed and Stephenie Ritger family, who are neighbors living on County Rd. I. . . .

The turbine is expected to produce all the electrical power needed to run the Preder household and the farming operation with enough electricity left over to power 12 to 15 additional homes. That additional power will be sold to the We Energies utility.

Ritger, a Random Lake attorney and Town of Sherman hobby farmer, is financing the $500,000 tower with about half of the cost covered through grants offered by the federal government and Focus on Energy. He looks at the turbine as an investment that will pay for itself during the next 10 to 15 years — and be around to produce energy for much longer.

“It’s an investment but it’s also an opportunity to send a message that we need to do more renewable energy,” says Ritger. “That’s a message I’ve been preaching for a long time. So my wife and I are putting some dollars behind that message.”

The Ritger Professional Building in Random Lake was equipped with solar panels when it was built in 2000. The panels power the building, and the excess electricity goes back to the power grid. He thought it would be a good idea to try building a turbine out in the country, and the Preders were receptive to the idea.

The 140-acre Jeff-Leen Farm raises Piedmontese cattle and free-range chickens with no growth hormones. Jeff’s great-great grandfather, John Pannier, purchased this Town of Sherman farm in 1868.

“We’ve been neighbors for 40 years, and you can’t put a wind turbine in the valley,” said Ritger. “You put it on the best hill that you’ve got. So that’s how this joint venture was put together — the Preders providing the site and the Ritgers providing the capital.”

Jeff and Kathy Preder purchased the farm in 1977 and they milked cows until 1997, when they switched to beef raising. They soon discovered Piedmontese cattle from Italy. This breed features more cell mass per muscle and less fat.

“They are kept on pasture year round and moved to a new pasture every two to three days to ensure that they have fresh grass and alfalfa,” says Jeff Preder. “The calves are kept at their mother’s side to see that they get a healthy start and the nutrition that they need. The animals are positively free of added growth hormones, steroids, antibiotics and animal byproducts.”

The Preders sell their products at farmers markets in Sheboygan, West Bend, Fox Point and Milwaukee, and they also supply a number of restaurants.

The Preders, whose energy bills run about $400 a month, worked with Kettle View Renewable Energy of Silver Creek to acquire and install the wind turbine. Kettle View Renewable Energy, which has been in business since 2006, installed turbines in 2010 at Random Lake High School and at the Village of Cascade wastewater treatment plant.

This new turbine has 34 1/2-foot long blades. It can produce up to 160,000 kilowatt hours per year (about 125,000 more than the Preders consume annually). The turbine generates electricity in wind speeds of 7 mph or greater.

“It’s not for every place,” says Randy Faller, who owns Kettle View Renewable Energy with his wife, Maureen. “You’ve got to make sure it’s going to be a good wind site that’s going to be productive and pay for itself.” The process to acquire, get permits for and to properly locate the wind turbine took almost a year. The installation began on Mon., Aug. 20, and it was commissioned on Mon., Aug. 27.

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