HAYFIELD – Plans are under way for a new wind farm in western Dodge County that could power up to 100,000 homes.
Nature Energies, a European-based company, hopes to build a 450 megawatt wind farm with up to 300 wind turbines, said Jeff Cook-Coyle, the company’s development vice president. Cook-Coyle, a Rochester resident, said western Dodge County is an ideal spot for the project – thanks in part to good wind and a nearby transmission line.
“It’s a beautiful site for a project,” Cook-Coyle said. “It’s flat and it’s open without a lot of houses, and it works with how we want to interconnect the project to the transmission system.”
This marks the third wind farm proposal for Dodge County. High Country Energy has proposed installing up to 200 wind turbines in Dodge and Olmsted counties. Renewable Energy Systems recently installed a meteorological tower in Dodge County as a step in developing a wind farm.
Most Dodge County residents are familiar with wind farms, thanks to McNeilus Wind’s 41 turbines near Dodge Center. But over the past year, more wind energy companies have been looking to Dodge County for larger-scale wind projects, said Duane Johnson, the county’s planning director.
While southwestern Minnesota’s Buffalo Ridge has long been an attraction for wind farm developers thanks to its gusty conditions, Dodge County also boasts good wind. With room running out on the transmission line near Buffalo Ridge, attention has shifted to southeastern Minnesota. Also behind the push are new state mandates requiring electricity producers to get a quarter of their power from green sources by 2025.
The area’s strong wind is helping attract wind farm developers.
He said he first met with Nature Energies representatives a year ago. The company has not submitted any applications to the county at this time. But Nature Energies has sponsored public meetings for landowners to learn more about the project and consider leasing space for wind turbines.
Cook-Coyle’s past projects including helping develop a 100 megawatt wind farm in Trimont, Minn. He also helped establish the Big Blue Wind Farm near Blue Earth, Minn. Cook-Coyle said the Dodge County project could mean up to $1 million in additional revenue for the county, thanks to the state’s wind production tax. He estimates townships could get $175,000 to $200,000 and school districts could receive between $75,000 to $110,000 per year. But local school districts would no longer benefit from the wind production tax as of June 30, 2009, unless the Legislature changes the law.
By Heather J. Carlson
5 February 2008
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