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We Energies proposes new wind power farm; $200 million project announced with 3 others under way in state  

With construction of three major wind power projects well under way in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties, We Energies announced Tuesday plans for another large wind farm.

The Milwaukee-based utility has ordered a $200 million wind project that would generate about 100 megawatts of electricity, We Energies Chairman Gale Klappa said. The project would consist of 50 to 65 turbines, depending on the size and power output of the turbines eventually selected.

We Energies requested that FPL Energy of Juno Beach, Fla., secure the necessary leases and permits for the project.

The deal with FPL Energy was negotiated as a side agreement to the $1 billion sale of the Point Beach nuclear plant by the Milwaukee utility to FPL.

FPL developed the Montfort project in Dodgeville, currently the state’s largest wind farm, with 20 turbines.

Now, FPL will be asked to secure land leases from farmers and permits from regulators for a project that would be located in central Wisconsin, Klappa said. No additional details about a site were released.

Although the state hasn’t built any new major wind projects since 2001, Wisconsin is expected to see many new wind farms announced as utilities race to comply with a state law requiring that 10% of the state’s electricity be generated from non-polluting, renewable sources of power by 2015.

We Energies will spend $1.5 billion on wind power projects to comply with that mandate, Klappa said.

Funding for the wind farm now under construction is included in a request to raise power prices in January. Customers would be asked to start paying for the $200 million project as part of the price increase that state regulators are expected to be deciding two years from now, utility managers said Tuesday during an investor conference call.

Contractors working for the Milwaukee utility this summer began pouring foundations for the state’s largest wind power project, the $300 million Blue Sky Green Field project, near the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago.

That project consists of 88 turbines and will generate three times as much wind power as is being generated from five wind farms now operating across the state. Construction is expected to be completed next summer, Klappa said.

Meanwhile, in Dodge County, Invenergy LLC of Chicago has begun construction of a project that initially will have 66 turbines. A second phase may be built at a later date, said Mick Baird, Invenergy project manager.

Last week, Wisconsin Power & Light Co. of Madison broke ground on a wind power project that will consist of 41 turbines in Eden and Empire in Fond du Lac County.

Utilities have unveiled plans for major wind power projects over the last several years, but plans ran into obstacles, including the difficulty of finding wind turbines and a host of legal challenges.

Those challenges included homeland security concerns raised last year by the U.S. Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration, as well as protests by environmental groups concerned about the threat from turbines to birds flying to and from the Horicon Marsh – near the site of the Invenergy project.

In response to concerns raised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state Department of Natural Resources, the state Public Service Commission required Invenergy to bar all wind turbines at the wind farm, known as the Forward Wind Energy Center, from being built within two miles of the marsh.

Electricity from the Forward project will be sold under long-term contracts with Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay, Wisconsin Power & Light, Madison Gas and Electric Co. of Madison and Wisconsin Public Power Inc. of Sun Prairie.

Wisconsin relies primarily on coal-fired power plants for its electricity.

By Thomas Content

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

30 October 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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