More windmills will go up in the northwest corner of Martin County, along with the adjacent areas of Jackson and Cottonwood counties.
Great River Energy, which purchases the energy produced by the Trimont Area Wind Farm, announced an agreement with PPM Energy to purchase energy from the Elm Creek Wind Farm. Construction on the wind farm is expected to begin in fall 2008 and in operation by December.
The project will feature an additional 66 turbines at 1.5 megawatts each.
“It’s been in planning for quite awhile,” said Rep. Bob Gunther. “It’s part of the state’s ‘25 by 25’ initiative for renewable energy, in which 25 percent of the state’s power comes from wind power.”
“Not only does (the project) provide us with a clean, renewable energy, it also is a local project adjacent to the Trimont Area Wind Farm and our Lakefield Junction Station power plant,” said Jon Brekke, Great River Energy’s vice president of member services. “With the addition of the output from Elm Creek Wind Farm, Great River Energy will have over 300 megawatts of wind capacity under contract. That gives us a great start toward meeting the state of Minnesota’s renewable energy standard.”
“It costs less per kilowatt to put up a windmill farm than building a new coal plant,” Gunther said.
Great River Energy has purchased wind power from the Trimont Area Wind Farm since it began operating in November 2005.
The Elm Creek Wind Farm project is expected to follow in the footsteps of the Trimont Area Wind Farm, in which landowners benefit from the revenue participation as well as the traditional easement payments.
“The farmers don’t own the windmills, but they receive about 60 to 70 percent of the money they would receive if they did own the windmills,” Gunther explained. “The farmers also get the rent on the land use.”
The landowners are not the only ones who will benefit financially from the project. Production tax revenues from the project for Jackson and Martin counties are expected to range from $350,000-$400,000 annually.
“Our share from the Trimont Area Wind farm has been about $200,000,” Gunther said. “We get paid by the production of energy, and that comes as property taxes.”
“This project is a model for community wind power and a good fit for Great River Energy based on its competitive pricing, access to transmission and ability to serve the members of our cooperative,” Brekke added.
By Jennifer Brookens
13 December 2007
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