Article

Wind farm moves closer to realization

A proposal for We Energies to buy two homes in the vicinity of a soon-to-be-built wind farm is the only thing standing in the way of building the roads that, a year from now, will lead to a vast collection of wind energy turbines in northeast Columbia County. ...the Public Service Commission required We Energies to "reduce the individual hardships" for two specific households whose homes are located close to an especially large number of proposed turbine locations.

A proposal for We Energies to buy two homes in the vicinity of a soon-to-be-built wind farm is the only thing standing in the way of building the roads that, a year from now, will lead to a vast collection of wind energy turbines in northeast Columbia County.

At Thursday's meeting of the Columbia County Board's highway committee, officials of the county and We Energies signed an agreement that will require the utility to pay for the repair of any county roads that might be damaged during the construction.

We Energies plans to build, on land leased from farmers in the towns of Scott and Randolph, up to 90 wind turbines, capable of generating up to 207 megawatts of electric power. The development, called Glacier Hills Energy Park, could become the largest wind energy operation in Wisconsin.

Mike Strader of We Energies said Thursday that the company hopes to soon start building the gravel roads to the turbine sites, to offer access for maintenance.

But before that can happen, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has to sign off on a plan for We Energies to buy two homes located near the proposed sites of numerous turbines.

Strader said the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A proposal for We Energies to buy two homes in the vicinity of a soon-to-be-built wind farm is the only thing standing in the way of building the roads that, a year from now, will lead to a vast collection of wind energy turbines in northeast Columbia County.

At Thursday's meeting of the Columbia County Board's highway committee, officials of the county and We Energies signed an agreement that will require the utility to pay for the repair of any county roads that might be damaged during the construction.

We Energies plans to build, on land leased from farmers in the towns of Scott and Randolph, up to 90 wind turbines, capable of generating up to 207 megawatts of electric power. The development, called Glacier Hills Energy Park, could become the largest wind energy operation in Wisconsin.

Mike Strader of We Energies said Thursday that the company hopes to soon start building the gravel roads to the turbine sites, to offer access for maintenance.

But before that can happen, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has to sign off on a plan for We Energies to buy two homes located near the proposed sites of numerous turbines.

Strader said the purchase would not be an eminent domain taking. Rather, it's intended to fulfill one of the conditions that the PSC set forth when it voted in January to grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity for Glacier Hills.

According to documents filed with the PSC, the commission required We Energies to "reduce the individual hardships" for two specific households whose homes are located close to an especially large number of proposed turbine locations. One option for doing that - and, according to the documents, the option preferred by We Energies and both households - is for the utility to buy the homes.

PSC Engineer Scot Cullen said Thursday that the commission is expected to decide on the matter soon. Commission approval is needed before either sale can be closed, he said.

From Columbia County's perspective, however, the agreement regarding the roads clears the way for the work to begin.

Highway Commissioner Kurt Dey said Corporation Counsel Joseph Ruf had looked over the agreement, which basically calls for We Energies to make repairs, or pay for repairs, whenever the utility's construction activity results in damage to a county road.

"I think we're ready to go," he told the committee.

When the highway committee met April 1, Andrew Hesselbach of We Energies said the weight of the construction equipment, and not the turbines themselves, is most likely to cause damage. The turbine and tower components, though heavy, are hauled on several axles, he said.

The turbines, which could be as high as 400 feet from the ground to the tip of the highest blade, aren't scheduled to be built until the spring and summer of 2011.

Walter "Doc" Musekamp of We Energies said Thursday that, in addition to the roads that will lead to the turbines, one of the first things to be built will be the wind farm's operations building on Columbia County Highway H, south of Highway 33.


Source: http://www.wiscnews.com/por...

MAY 7 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26138-wind-farm-moves-closer-to-realization
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