Alliant Energy wants residents from the towns of Eden and Empire to know it will be a good neighbor.
The energy services provider held an open house Thursday in Eden to answer questions and give updates to landowners who will have turbines in the Cedar Ridge Wind Farm project installed on their property and their neighbors.
“We’re here. We’re pleased to be here and we’re going to be good neighbors,” said Kim Zuhlke, vice president of New Energy Resources for Alliant Energy.
Alliant and its subsidiary Wisconsin Power and Light Company, which will be operating Cedar Ridge Wind Farm, are dedicated to being a welcome addition to the communities, Zuhlke said.
Alliant Energy spokeswoman Erin Dammen said the open house was a success.
“We’ve had a very good turnout,” she said. “People are asking a lot of really good questions. That’s why we’re here. We want to hear the questions so we can address any concerns and get everybody comfortable with the project.”
There were 12 Alliant representatives at the open house to answer questions. Simulated photos of how the wind turbines will look on each property, photos of the construction process from other wind farms and maps of where each of the turbines will be located were also available.
“People are really interested in the photo simulations because it gives a really good idea from different vantage points of how the turbines will look,” Dammen said.
Gerald Dunisch, who will have one turbine on his property, said he liked the construction photos.
“It’s nice to see these pictures here of how it’s done,” he said.
Town of Eden Chairman Richard Guell said he came to the meeting to get an update on the project.
“I’m just seeing exactly what it’s going to look like,” he said.
Don Schindler, who owns property near proposed turbine sites, said he was surprised to see how big the turbine blades will actually be.
“They’re huge,” he said. “They’re up so high you can’t tell how huge they are.”
The size of the turbine blades for Cedar Ridge Wind Farm have not been determined, but the circumference of the blades’ path could be as large as a football field, Zuhlke said.
Wires from turbines will run underground between the turbines and into a substation. Some of those wires will run through Ken Brown’s property and one turbine will be placed close to his land. He came to the meeting to keep up-to-date on the project.
“I go to all the meetings just to see what is going on,” Brown said. “I’m pretty familiar with the project. I have a pretty good idea what they’re doing.”
A few concerns were raised, but the overall reception of the project has been good from the community and landowners, Zuhlke said.
The timeline for the project, which is still taking shape, was also a popular question.
“It usually takes two to four years to get a wind farm up to speed and that starts with understanding the wind regime and understanding all of the things that need to come into play with regard to the wind farm,” Zuhlke said.
Other hurdles include landowner agreements, environmental impact studies and obtaining permits, he said.
Cedar Ridge Wind Farm applied for permits with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission earlier this month. They hope to begin construction in 2007.
“As soon as we get authorization from the Public Service Commission, we’ll be in the market for turbines,” he said.
Alliant has committed to wind energy as the technology has improved, Zuhlke said.
Within five or six years, the company hopes to obtain 10 percent of its energy with wind. Currently, it acquires between 2 and 3 percent of its energy from wind.
By Jared Blohm
The Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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