We Energies plans to start construction this summer on a $300 million wind power project in Fond du Lac County, after completing a deal to buy 88 wind turbines from Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark.
The wind power project, which has been on the drawing board for four years, will be the largest in the state to date.
The Vestas turbines will be 1.65 megawatts each, meaning the total output of the wind farm will be 145 megawatts, or enough to supply about 36,000 homes.
Vestas was selected after a review of turbines made by other vendors, including General Electric Co., Siemens and Gamesa. The Versa turbine “has proven to be the most competitive and is available for the earliest delivery dates,” said Rick Kuester, executive vice president of Wisconsin Energy Corp., the parent company of We Energies.
The We Energies wind project, known as Blue Sky Green Field, is scheduled to be under construction for roughly a year. The total project will cost about $300 million.
The utility plans to include a request to pay for the wind farm in a rate case that is expected to be filed with the state Public Service Commission in May.
Under a state law that passed last year, Wisconsin utilities must expand their use of wind power and other renewable sources of electricity. By 2015, 10% of the electricity sold in Wisconsin must come from renewable power, the law requires.
Several other utilities are in the process of planning wind power projects as well. A proposal from Alliant Energy Corp. for a wind farm in Fond du Lac County is being reviewed by state regulators.
Sun Prairie-based Wisconsin Public Power Inc. said it signed a deal last week to buy power from the Butler Ridge wind power project in Dodge County, plus several local wind-power projects that may be developed in Kaukauna, New Holstein and Westby. The 54-megawatt Butler Ridge project being developed by Eurus Energy is expected to begin generating electricity next year.
In addition, Wisconsin Public Power will make electricity in Appleton from methane emitted by the Outagamie County landfill. Including these and previously announced projects, the utility says it expects to generate 10% of its power from renewable sources by 2009, six years ahead of the state mandate.
The We Energies project, to be located east of Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac County, had been projected to cost ratepayers up to $394 million, but that price tag was based on buying larger turbines than those under contract from Vestas.
Each turbine will be 400 feet tall, from the foundation to the highest point of the rotating blades, according to documents the utility submitted to state regulators. Regulators approved construction of the wind project last month.
Utility spokesman Barry McNulty said Vestas was chosen because it submitted a competitive bid and committed to meeting We Energies’ requirement that turbines be supplied by late this year.
Vestas is the same company that built the turbines operating near U.S. Highway 41 in Byron, at the two-turbine wind power project the Milwaukee utility built in 1999.
“We have been working with the customer for some time on this project, and we are happy we have managed to get to the finish line,” said Jens Soby, president of Vestas Americas.
With 2006 sales of $5 billion, Vestas has been making wind turbines since 1979. As of December 2005, Vestas estimated that it has a 35% market share of all the wind power facilities installed around the world.
By Thomas Content
29 March 2007
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