Travelers along Interstate 90 and residents of Freeborn County could soon see industrial-sized wind turbines spinning.
Wind Capital Group is working to build a 32,000-acre wind farm along Minnesota Highway 13 from near Manchester north to the county line. If completed, the wind farm could bring in $760 million to the county and an additional $1 million to private landowners’ pockets.
“It would be a big investment,” said Dave Brunsvold, project development manager with WCG. “We could be looking at a significant amount of dollars coming back to your county.”
Another wind farm could be built south of I-90 between Conger and Alden. Dairyland Power along with WCG are working there to build a 5,500-acre farm.
The two proposed locations are on the high ground for Freeborn County.
They form approximately the natural divide between waters that flow to the Shell Rock River and waters that flow to the Blue Earth and Big Cobb rivers.
Planning started last spring and both projects are still in the development stages. Brunsvold and WCG Vice President of Project Development Sean Stocker are going door to door, working with private landowners on an agreement to place the wind turbines in Freeborn County.
Currently, Brunsvold and Stocker said they have 20,000 acres of private land under cooperation for the Bent Tree Wind Farm, along Highway 13. The Freeborn Wind Farm, with Dairyland Power, also has enough land to start a project.
Freeborn County commissioners on Tuesday heard a presentation on the proposals. Nothing is final.
Should the wind farms become a reality – Brunsvold said one in five actually make it from the planning stages to completion – the Bent Tree Wind Farm would be a 400 megawatt project. That would make it the largest ever built in Minnesota, he said.
“It’s obvious that it would be a positive thing for the county in terms of tax base, revenue,” said County Administrator John Kluever.
And at $1.8 million per megawatt revenue for the county, that totals to a $760 million profit for the county, Brunsvold said. The owner of the product pays the state a production-based tax of 0.12 cents per kilowatt. Once the state receives those taxes, it then returns them back to the county, city and township where the wind farm is located.
By Sarah Kirchner
8 February 2008
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