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Rejected wind turbine project gets back on track

TOWN OF MENASHA – Construction could begin this spring on a wind turbine demonstration project along Northern Road similar to one rejected in January.

Tom Newton, president of Worship Thanks Praise Ltd., Manitowoc, said the scope and location of the project has changed and all generated electricity will be used on site, not sold.

That eliminates the need for a Winnebago County conditional use permit approved by the Town Board and requires only a staff review before a building permit is issued.

Newton recently submitted an application and state-approved plans for a 115-foot-tall free-standing steel grid structure to be built on the 3.2-acre property he is purchasing just north of the ServPro of the Fox Cities property at 2225 Northern Road.

Once the supporting structure is completed, 37 steel pipe mounted turbines – each 14 feet tall with 12-foot diameter blades – will be placed around the top of the steel girders.

Newton said that makes the overall structure 135 feet tall but the steel pipe mounted turbines are only 20 feet tall to the tip of the rotating blades, reducing the need for the setbacks from adjacent property required in the new town wind energy ordinance.

Community Development Director George Dearborn said an initial site plan review shows the plans have “substantially complied” with the town’s new wind energy system ordinance.

In January, the Town Board voted 4-0 to reject the conditional use permit to install 36 small wind turbines due to the lack of details regarding the structural integrity of 120-foot- tall, steel pipe mounted turbines banded together by guy wires.

Under the new ordinance, wind turbines 75 feet or less in height are allowed with certain requirements for placement and safety while taller turbines have additional requirements.

Newton said the electricity generated by the wind turbines, estimated to be about 60 kilowatts, will be used to run machinery, including a kiln for drying wood, and also for the adjacent ServPro business owned by his partner, Kelly Rousseau.

“We’re going to keep the electricity on ground so we don’t have to go through the same hassle as last year (in seeking the permit),” Newton said.

“We make bundles of firewood (to be sold at Kwik Trip convenience stores) in order to serve the ministry,” he said. “By cutting out the electricity bills and heating bills of ServPro, it allows them to make more profits and put more into mission work.”

The base of the steel girder support structure will be 80 by 80 feet and will eliminate the need for cables and guy wires. Construction will begin as soon as a building permit is received and the frost comes out of the ground.

The cost of the project, which is expected to be ready for turbine placement next fall, is expected to be under $100,000.

By Michael King
Post-Crescent staff writer


28 February 2007