A formal power purchase agreement will allow construction to start on an 18.7 megawatt wind energy project in Lyon County.
By the end of the year, Marshall Municipal Utilities customers will receive power from nine turbines in Sodus Township, project officials said.
The wind project of at least $30 million is the largest to be built in Lyon County.
Missouri River Energy Services has signed a power purchase agreement with the Rahn Group of Edina and John Deere Wind Energy to buy the power created from the wind energy farm, Missouri River officials said. MRES supplies power to MMU.
The contract means “it will be constructed,” said Jeff Peters, MRES director of marketing and development.
“It means the project will be completed,” said Charlie Daum of Rahn.
John Deere Wind Energy is slated to start construction July 23, Daum said.
The project will be completed, and operations will start by the end of the year, Daum said.
The project allows MRES and MMU to move toward the state mandated Renewable Energy Standard. The standard requires electric utilities to provide 25 percent of the power they sell in Minnesota by 2025 to be provided by renewable resources.
MRES will buy the power for a set price for 20 years, Peters said.
“From a purely technical point of view, all the (power) that the wind project produces will be used in Marshall,” MMU general manager Brad Roos said.
On a day when the wind blows, a dishwasher or computer in Marshall will get at least some of its electrical power from the nine turbines, Peters said.
The wind project has the potential to generate more than 60,000 megawatt hours of energy each year, which would meet the annual needs of more than 5,800 homes, Peters said.
“It doesn’t mean we’d supply that amount each and every day,” Peters said of the annual energy potential of the project.
The turbines operate only when the wind blows, Peters and Roos said.
Yet, the project will help MMU and MRES keep energy costs affordable, Peters said.
It also reduces the overall need to produce energy from fossil fuels and helps to offset costs when MRES may need to buy power on the open market because of drought or other circumstances, Peters said.
MMU is building a new substation as part of the wind project. The substation is located near the city’s water treatment plant, just off Minnesota Highway 23.
Roos said it will be ready to receive wind power by the end of the year and will be fully completed next spring.
Daum said he is anxious for construction to start on a project that has been at least two years in the making.
Rahn, MMU and Missouri Energy have been cooperating during the process which results in the recent purchase contract.
“…there are so many pieces that have to be put together…,” Peters said.
The project had some recent opposition from a nearby landowner who raised concerns about the number and size of the turbines, as well as concerns about the long-term impact on the wind rights of others in the area.
County officials said during at least two public meetings those concerns were addressed in the permit for the wind project and in county zoning ordinances.
Rahn received a community-based economic development designation support from Lyon County and that state designation allows the project to access state incentives to build the project, Peters said.
The two turbines of 2 megawatt capacity also qualify for renewable energy production incentives, or REPIs, of 1 cent per kilowatt hour produced for 10 years.
Peters said the incentives for renewable energy spurred the project.
Another key piece in the project was the financial backing of John Deere, Daum said.
“John Deere has the financial capability to back a large-scale project like this,” Daum said. “At $30-plus million, that’s not the kind of money we have.”
“The thing is, John Deere really brings the muscle,” Peters said.
Daum said the relationship Rahn has with MRES and MMU is also very important.
Peters cited MMU and Roos with being forward thinking and a willing partner to use the wind power.
“Brad (Roos) has taken a lot of pride in this project, and he should,” Peters said.
By Rae Kruger
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