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Johnsburg turbines set to fire up this month  

Wind turbine blades are scheduled to start turning this month on the first 11 units in the Blue Sky Green Field wind project in northeastern Fond du Lac County.

As of about 10 days ago, more than 20 of the 397-foot turbines (from the base to the tip of the blade at its highest point) had been erected in the Town of Marshfield. The project is expected to consist of two 44-turbine wind farms (88 total turbines) in the towns of Marshfield and Calumet. Crews are continuing to work in the area and cranes continue to lift the large pieces into place.

While contracts with participating landowners generally block them from commenting publicly on the issue, two brothers who questioned and fought the introduction of the wind turbines to the area four years ago are continuing to talk about the issue­-especially in light of the continuing controversy in neighboring Calumet County over wind energy.

Mike Winkler has moved from Mount Calvary to closer to Fond du Lac, in large part because of what he said was negative reaction to his opposition to bringing turbines into the area.

Brother Bill still lives off Maple Road just east of Johnsburg and literally in the shadow of a wind turbine on a neighbor’s property. Bill said the turbine seems closer to his home than the 1,000 feet it is required to be, but he said he does not dare to measure it for fear of being cited for trespassing.

“This was a close knit community, but now it’s brother against brother,” Bill said. “I used to be proud to live here.”

Mike said he first learned of the plan to create the wind farm when he saw a small ad in a local newspaper advertising an informational meeting. He said he first became concerned about what was going on when he learned that landowners allegedly were already signing leases with development companies two years earlier.

The Winklers said four or five couples plus a few “silent partners” started fighting the introduction of wind turbines to the area four or five years ago. They eventually brought a lawsuit which Mike said was tossed out of court by the judge on the grounds that no nuisance yet existed.

The Winklers said many people remained silent on the issue when meetings were being held years ago, but he claimed some of those people are now coming up to him and expressing concerns or telling him to “keep up the good work” now that turbines are being erected.

We Energies said the Blue Sky Green Field wind project is being designed to generate 145 megawatts of electricity and will be capable of powering about 36,000 average residential homes. Construction began in June-primarily with road work-with the first turbine going up in mid-December. All 88 are expected to be up by mid-spring.

Each “circuit” consists of 11 turbines and the first 11 are ready to start spinning this month.

According to the We Energies Web site which talks about the project, the tower sections are being off-loaded at the Port of Green Bay and transported by truck to the site. Each truck transports one tower section which is approximately 74 feet long. Each turbine consists of four tower sections. It takes about seven hours to set the first two tower sections.

We Energies selected Alliant Energy WindConnect as the general contractor for the project. WindConnect is the trade name of a business operated by Alliant Energy. Since 1999, WindConnect has provided design-build services at 24 wind energy facilities in 17 states.

Several major Wisconsin contractors are also working on the project, including Appleton-based Oscar J. Boldt Construction, Hopper Corporation of Madison, Michels Corporation of Brownsville, and Baumhardt Sand and Gravel Inc. of Eden.

We Energies purchased the turbines from Vestas Wind Systems. Each Vestas V82 turbine is capable of producing 1.65 MW of electricity.

The hub is 262 feet off the ground, while the blades are 134 feet long. Each tower weighs about 140 tons.

By Mark Sherry
TC News Editor

Tri-County News

7 February 2008

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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