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Investors consider wind farm potential

A group of investors is exploring the potential for commercial wind turbines in west-central Wisconsin.

AgWind Energy Partners, formed in spring 2006 with four members, installed a meteorological tower in October to measure wind northwest of Ettrick. Group member Jim Naleid of La Crosse said AgWind planned to install measuring towers at two other Trempealeau County sites.

The proposed projects have sparked a Trempealeau County Wind Forum, sponsored by UW-Extension.

The event, set for 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Riverland Energy Cooperative in Arcadia, will include discussion of wind-energy economics, environmental concerns, regulations and siting.

Speakers at the free event will include Pat Walsh of UW-Extension, Steve Ugoretz of the state Department of Natural Resources and a Dairyland Power representative.

‘More and more with Dairyland Power showing more interest (in wind energy) there’s more interest in the western part of the state,’ Walsh said.

The project is in an exploratory phase, Naleid said, and it’s unknown whether the area is windy enough to support wind farms. If it goes forward, the project could generate 10 to 100 megawatts, he said.

‘There’s no assurance for us at this stage of the game that any of these projects will get off the ground,’ he said.

The meteorological towers will collect data for nine to 12 months. Naleid said construction wouldn’t begin until 2008.

AgWind Energy would finance the project, he said. Naleid such projects typically cost $1 million to $1.5 million per megawatt.

Trempealeau County has a moratorium on commercial wind farms through March while the county zoning committee develops an ordinance.

‘We plan on taking a three-month extension of that to the County Board in February’ in order to gather public input after next week’s forum, said George Brandt, county zoning committee chairman.