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Test tower gets approval  

MAGNOLIA TOWNSHIP-A permit approval Tuesday night allowed for the first step in bringing a wind farm to town.

About 50 residents attended a meeting to hear the town board vote 3-0 to grant a conditional-use permit to EcoEnergy of Beloit to install a weather tower at the northeast corner of County B and Highway 213.

The 197-foot tower will measure temperature and wind speeds for at least a year. The data collected will be shared with the town.

Gathering data from the tower is just the first step in determining if the township is suitable for a wind farm, EcoEnergy officials said.

Landowner Tom Drew agreed to have the tower on his land only after researching and visiting a wind farm.

“I like renewable energy, and I think it’ll be a good thing,” he said.

He likes that fact that it’s a local company exploring the idea, rather than a large company from somewhere like Chicago, he said.

EcoEnergy is a wind developer that’s working on projects throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. It has an office in Beloit and is a member of The MORSE Group, which includes specialty companies anchored in the electrical, energy and construction markets.

Plans for a wind farm are in a very early stage, and company officials would not commit to a number of turbines they’d like to install. Wind farms range from five to 50 turbines, they said.

A wind farm is contingent on agreements with landowners, results from the weather tower and a study on how much energy a transmission line south of Dorner Road could handle. That study could take nine months.

Only one resident raised a concern about wind turbines killing birds.

“If a wind farm did develop here, a lot of the predatory birds would be killed,” Bruce Foyer said.

But Tuesday’s meeting was meant only to approve a permit for a weather tower, not a wind turbine, one resident and town board member said.

“I think the town is getting ahead of itself “¦ Any testimony on turbines should come up at a future time when they’re applying for a turbine (permit),” board member Ron Sloniker said. “I don’t see anything wrong with a test tower.”

Right now the focus is on educating the community about wind energy, said Gary Haltaufderheide, a wind project associate with EcoEnergy.

“It’s a long process and we want them to be comfortable,” he said.

The tower will go up in the next four to six weeks, company officials said.

By Gina Duwe
Gazette staff

gazetteextra.com

28 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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