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Tower will test wind-energy viability  

A meteorological tower will gauge wind speed between Dexter and Grand Meadow in what could lead to the fourth wind-energy development in Mower County.

The Mower County Board on Tuesday approved a conditional-use permit for enXco, a California-based wind energy company, to build a nearly 162-foot tower in Grand Meadow Township on pasture owned by Harold and Helen Thaden. It will be just east of Interstate 90 and north of the freeway’s Dexter exits.

Steve Edwards, an enXco official, told the board his company has two towers gathering wind data now in Mower County. One of the towers, though, needs to be relocated to the Thaden property, he said, because it’s on property that will be part of the upcoming Horizon Wind Energy project.

The enXco project could lead to a 100-megawatt development with about 63 wind turbines, according to Daryl Franklin, the county’s planning and zoning director.

Currently, there are two wind farms with about 60 wind turbines operating in the county, he said.

Since Gov. Tim Pawlenty last month signed legislation setting a renewable energy requirement of 25 percent by 2025, the enXco project has been getting a lot of attention, Edwards said.

The tower will gather data for two to three years, he said. Utility companies like to have a lot of data before moving forward, he added.

Board member Ray Tucker, who lives near the tower’s site, had concern about Mayo Clinic’s helicopter flying in that area with an unlit tower.

It would be a substantial cost for the company to bring electricity to the new site, Edwards said, and the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t require lighting for a tower that tall.

The approved permit requires enXco to notify the FAA, Mayo and area airports of the tower’s location.

Dave Hillier, a board member, voted against the permit for enXco, saying the tower should be lit.

This spring, Horizon Wind is planning to start construction on its Prairie Star Wind Farm project that includes farmland in Clayton, Bennington, Marshall and Grand Meadow townships.

The 100-megawatt project will involve 61 wind turbines and take six to eight months to construct, according to Horizon Wind.

By Tim Ruzek

The Post-Bulletin

postbulletin.com

8 March 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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