In a move that could power 75 percent of the homes in the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC), that group’s governing body has announced plans to build a two-megawatt wind turbine less than one-half mile from Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake.
The planned turbine project will cost an estimated $4 million to install. That cost assumes the $2 million-per megawatt costs of electricity-generating wind turbines cited by wind energy developers.
Bill Rudnicki, SMSC tribal administrator, said the project is being built in part to prove that wind power generated in “fair to marginal” conditions is worth the cost of installation.
Located in northeastern Scott County, Mystic Lake Casino stands on land that has winds that, at an altitude of 80 meters – almost exactly the height of the planned 262-foot wind turbine tower – range from 15.4 to 16.3 miles-per-hour.
That velocity is deemed iffy by developers of large wind farms, who in Minnesota have built in windier regions of the state – south Minnesota, the southwest corner of the state containing Buffalo Ridge and along the western border with South Dakota and North Dakota.
While located on questionable turf in terms of wind velocity, the SMSC’s turbine, located 25 miles south of Minneapolis, will be the tallest and most powerful wind turbine of its kind near the downtown Minneapolis.
It’s not as close to the Minneapolis skyline as the 160-foot-tall turbine unit erected next to the headquarters of Elk River-based Great River Energy. But that turbine generates just 225 kilowatts, or about one-ninth of the 2 megawatt wind turbine planned by the SMSC.
Minnesota currently has 1,299 megawatts of wind energy online, which ranks it third among states behind Texas and California, according to the Washington, D.C.-based American Wind Energy Association.
by Bob Geiger
23 April 2008
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