Articles from Minnesota
The New Ulm Public Utilities Commission Tuesday approved a $41.3 million budget for 2007, narrowed the water tower site selection to three sites and authorized $200,000 in pre-development costs for converting the No. 4 boiler to coal/biomass fuel and developing a nine-Megawatt wind farm.
The Mower County Board approved a permit for a new substation to be built near Grand Meadow. The new substation will allow for more electricity to be created through the use of wind turbines.
A project that will bring 86 wind energy turbines to Mower County moved closer to gaining approval Tuesday. High Prairie Wind Farm II, LLC received the Mower County Planning Commission's endorsement of an environmental assessment report on its plans to construct a 161 kv substation and a 161 kv high voltage transmission line. In addition, the petitioner received the commission's endorsement of its request for a conditional use permit for the twin items in Section 23, Clayton Township.
After an extensive discussion, the County Board agreed to hold off on approving conditional use permits for five wind farm turbines in Odin Township. The commissioners agreed to recess the meeting and reconvene to talk about approving the conditional use permits. The commissioners requested that they receive a written legal opinion that verifies it is the county’s position and not the state’s position to make the decision on permitting the wind turbines in Odin. Because a statute says any combination of wind energy systems of 5 megawatts or more must be approved by the state, County Attorney LaMar Piper did not approve having the county commissioners grant the conditional use permits for the wind turbines.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants Minnesotans to draw a quarter of their power from renewable sources by 2025, and he suggested the state punish utilities that fall short. Pawlenty sketched out his energy goal Tuesday in a speech to an agriculture and energy summit and delved into more detail later at a legislative session preview forum organized by The Associated Press. “We intend for it to have teeth in the form of financial penalties,” Pawlenty said. Without getting specific, he said he wants the fines to be “significant.”
A new report, prepared at the behest of the Legislature, argues that if lawmakers focus on policies to extend transmission lines, they could boost the state’s share of electricity generated by wind turbines to 25 percent. That would be about an eightfold increase from today. The Midwest Wind Integration Study, released Wednesday, said the cost of integrating wind power into existing utility systems would be less than half a cent for each kilowatt hour produced. But that doesn’t mean wind-power projects will be cheap. The study doesn’t estimate the cost of building new transmission lines to reach wind turbines scattered across the state and the region. “Knowing we can’t just plunk all this energy on the system right now,” the goal of the study was to say what’s possible after millions of dollars of investment, said Mark Ahlstrom, chief executive of WindLogics, a St. Paul consulting firm that worked on the report. “It’s possible — not today, but in coming years– if we’re interested in doing this.”
Whether you’re interested in reducing our dependency on foreign oil, saving the planet, or making a buck, sustainable energy is a hot topic on an increasingly hotter planet. This past Thursday members of Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) collaborated with the West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (WCRSDP) and the Western Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team (CERTS). Together the groups sponsored a bus tour meant to bring together representatives from a number of avenues of society with the intention of edifying them in Community Based Renewable Energy Development. In all, over 30 individuals representing local government, members of academia, private investors and landowners, public utilities, non-profit organizations went along for the ride.
Our appetite for energy is growing fast, but the supply isn’t keeping up. Now a group of power companies that serve two million Minnesota customers wants to upgrade or build new transmission lines across the state. The proposed routes are from Ortonville, Minn. north to Morris, Minn., from Ortonville east to Willmar, Minn. and from Ortonville south to Granite Falls, Minn. Now, a battle is brewing over the power line plans.
Wind power looks increasingly like a rising economic star for western Minnesota. But before the three-bladed turbines rise in their local skies, representatives from communities in Swift, Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties went looking to the University of Minnesota-Morris for help. There, wind power research being conducted by the West Central Minnesota Research and Outreach Center is helping find the answers they seek on the economic and logistical challenges of tapping this energy source.
The road to the development of wind energy in Kandiyohi County is paved with giant tasks: Finding investors. Doing a wind study. Doing a study of energy transmission lines. Negotiating power contracts. Local organizers believe it’s feasible, however — and they’re taking initial steps to explore it further.
"The package is what makes it work,'' said Brian Zelenak, manager of regulatory administration for Xcel Energy, contending the approach has economic and environmental advantages. Xcel would buy 375 megawatts of power from Manitoba Hydro beginning in 2015 and buy or generate 380 megawatts of wind power by 2015. Wind power, which is not always available, would complement the Manitoba Hydro power, which would be 95 percent hydroelectric and would be available during peak hours.
Purchasing wind turbines seems to be the popular move for campuses across Minnesota. Following in Macalester’s footsteps, Carleton and St. Olaf built 1.65 Megawatt turbines on their campus properties in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Macalester installed an urban wind turbine on campus April 23, 2003. In the next few weeks, David Wheaton, Vice President for Administration and Finance, will decide whether Macalester will purchase a second wind turbine that would be located in Stevens County, in western Minnesota.
Storden — If you have driven down Highway 30 about two miles east of Storden you would have seen a lot of heavy equipment working in the fields both south and north of Highway 30. A new farmer owned wind farm is being built along the Red Rock Ridge. According to a contractor supervisor, there will be twenty 2.5 megawatt Clipper turbines.
CANBY — If it’s going to be approved, the people want it to include wind. During a public hearing Thursday on the conditional use permit for the Big Stone II transmission line project, a number of citizens expressed a desire to see at least some wind energy included as a requirement for the permit. The Big Stone II project would include a 600-megawatt coal burning plant added to an existing site near the Minnesota border in South Dakota. The proposal also includes a transmission line upgrade between Canby and Granite Falls.
A large wind farm that’s being built in Brookings County, South Dakota, and Lincoln County, Minnesota, must be operating by the end of next year so it can qualify for federal tax credits.
MILWAUKEE - Large turbines generating electricity in a radar line of sight can harm the ability of air defense radars to detect and track aircraft or other aerial objects, the U.S. Department of Defense said Thursday in a new study. The only way to make sure that U.S. forces can perform their air defense missions is to avoid putting the wind turbines in the line of sight of the radars, said the report submitted to the Senate and House Armed Services committees. Efforts have started to find other ways but they "require further development and validation" before they can be used, given that some turbines with rotating blades reach 500 feet high, the report said. "The numbers, height and rotation of these wind turbines present technical challenges to the effectiveness of radar systems that must be carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure acceptable military readiness is maintained," the report said.
With all the wind in South Dakota, seeing more wind turbines on the horizon would only seem to make sense. Xcel Energy Spokesman, Kent Larson, says “As you all know South Dakota has been called the Saudi Arabia of wind with tremendous potential to provide clean, reliable energy to our customers. ” Thursday’s announcement of a new 150-Megawatt wind power project, set to share the border between South Dakota and Minnesota, is significant because that potential is slowly becoming reality. Gary Hanson, with South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, says, “This means the breaking of the ground and the pioneering on the eastern side is just going to grow exponentially.”
WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration has given the go-ahead to three Minnesota wind power projects after concluding they don't interfere with military radar.
People traveling west on Tracy Road in Spring Valley just past the city limits on the first hill in the country will spot a new crop growing in the distance - wind turbines. About a dozen wind turbines are visible in spots with a clear view to areas southwest of Spring Valley in Bennington Township. They are part of a massive project in Mower County, where Florida Power & Light Energy, LLC, Juneau Branch, Fla., has leased approximately 6,240 acres, or approximately 9.75 square miles, for an alternative energy project. The wind turbines are also being placed in Lodi and Clayton townships.
Fourteen Minnesota school districts are joining forces hoping to create a revenue source and an educational experience for students by tapping the font of renewable energy. The districts have signed on to a plan that would give schools cooperative ownership of a wind farm.