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Winsconsin Public Service explores wind options

Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group (NYSE: TEG), is looking to build or buy a wind generation facility of approximately 100 megawatts of nameplate capacity somewhere in the Midwest.

“To help meet our renewable energy requirements, we are exploring wind options throughout the footprint of the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO), our regional electric transmission authority,” said Public Service Director ““ Renewable and Special Projects Rob Benninghoff. “That includes the area roughly from the Dakotas to Illinois.”

Benninghoff would not rule out purchasing a similar amount of energy from a new or existing wind farm but indicated the company would prefer to have a stake in ownership of the facility. “By committing to ownership, we have more control over a project and can better manage the outcomes. The best way to manage risk and create value for customers is to own the projects.”

The search area would include Wisconsin, according to Benninghoff, but other utilities and private generating companies have already snapped up most of the prime areas of the state. “We need a spot with sufficient wind that is convenient to electric transmission facilities, as well as a receptive project host environment,” he said. “In Wisconsin, those sites are few and far between these days.” Since all utilities in Wisconsin must reach mandated renewable energy levels by 2015, and other states such as Minnesota have their own significant renewable energy goals, competition for wind sites and equipment is fierce.

In expanding its renewable generation portfolio, Public Service is considering wind, solar, bio-fuel and other options. At this point, however, wind energy is the most viable on the scale required to meet the Wisconsin Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). “We’ll certainly keep looking at all of the renewable options, including distributed customer-owned renewable energy generators such as digesters,” said Benninghoff, “but we need the certainty of a large resource to generate significant renewable energy to meet RPS requirements within four to five years.”


30 April 2007