More than 100 wind turbines could be built in northern Mower County if a power company constructing a meteorological tower there finds good conditions.
Depending on the wind data, construction could begin in late 2008 or 2009, said Jeff Broberg, an official with the Rochester-based McGhie & Betts Environmental Services Inc., which is working with Renewable Energy Systems.
RES, based in Austin, Texas, and with an office in Minneapolis, gained approval Tuesday from the Mower County Board for a conditional-use permit to build and operate a 190-foot tower in Sargeant Township for wind data.
The RES wind farm could be a 200-megawatt project in Sargeant and Waltham townships, Broberg said. The turbines would be strung out rather than bunched together, he said.
If the wind farm comes to fruition, it’ll be the first for RES in Minnesota, he said.
The Mower County Board approved the conditional-use permit after discussing it Tuesday and last week.
Some board members and former county board member Garry Ellingson expressed concern with the towers’ visibility during the day and night for low-flying aircraft, such as crop dusters and medical helicopters. The original RES proposal, though, was in compliance with federal regulations.
The board, however, delayed its vote last week on the permit to let RES look at satisfying those concerns.
On Tuesday, the board approved the permit with three visibility features offered by RES:
“¢ The tower will be painted white and red to give daytime visibility.
“¢ Each outside guy wire will be fitted with a 20-foot-long red-and-white plastic sleeve that’s centered.
“¢ On the tower’s top will be a nighttime, solar-powered, red, flashing light.
In March, the board approved a conditional-use permit for the wind-energy company enXco to relocate a similar meteorological tower to the area of Dexter and Grand Meadow.
At the time, the board had expressed concern with that tower’s lack of visibility, but it only required enXco to notify the Federal Aviation Administration, Mayo Clinic and area airports of its location.
The enXco tower could lead to the county’s fourth wind-energy development. If built, it could be a 100-megawatt development with about 63 wind turbines.
Mower County has two wind farms with about 60 wind turbines in operation.
In what will be the county’s third wind farm, Horizon Wind planned to start construction this spring on its Prairie Star Wind Farm project, which includes farmland in Clayton, Bennington, Marshall and Grand Meadow townships.
The 100-megawatt project will involve 61 wind turbines and take up to eight months to build, according to Horizon Wind.
By Tim Ruzek
9 May 2007
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