We Energies is eying central Wisconsin as the site for a major wind farm, in addition to the three projects the utility and two other companies are developing in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.
The Milwaukee-based utility has yet to determine an exact location, though it is looking at areas west of Winnebago County and east of Highway 51, spokesperson Irissol Arce said.
We Energies officials said plans call for building 50 to 65 turbines. The $200 million project would generate about 100 megawatts of electricity, Chairman Gale Klappa said.
The wind farm would be operational by 2012, Arce said.
Central Wisconsin provides one of the state’s three wind pockets, said Andy Hesselbach, We Energies wind farm project manager. The other two are near Fond du Lac and in the southwestern portion of the state.
The top factors for a good wind farm location include a strong wind source, access to a main transmission system and an open geographical area, Hesselbach said.
We Energies asked that FPL Energy of Juno Beach, Fla., obtain the necessary leases and permits for the project. The deal with FPL Energy was negotiated as a side agreement to We Energies’ sale of the Point Beach nuclear power plant to FPL.
“A wind farm would be a good addition to our energy portfolio anywhere in Wisconsin,” said Doug Stingle, membership and outreach coordinator for the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, based in Custer.
Driving past the turbines “would be a continual reminder that (renewable energy) is something we plan to continue to move on and a strong defining characteristic of who we are as a community,” said Marty Anderson, chairman of Sustainable Marshfield, a group promoting sustainable practices in the area.
Renewable energy crosses ecology with the economy, Anderson said, and a wind farm would create new jobs and save money in the long term while remaining ecologically sound.
A state law requires 10 percent of electricity to be generated from nonpolluting, renewable sources by 2015.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Adam Rodewald
Central Wisconsin Sunday
4 November 2007
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