- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

WPL buys huge wind farm; Unbuilt project would span 32,000 acres in southern Minnesota

Wisconsin Power & Light Co. plans to build a 200-megawatt wind farm in southern Minnesota by the end of 2010, the Madison-based utility said Tuesday.

he company said it signed a letter of intent to buy a wind farm that spans more than 32,000 acres in Freeborn County, Minn., from Wind Capital Group LLC, a wind energy development firm based in Missouri.

At 200 megawatts, the Bent Tree Wind Farm could generate enough electricity to power up to 100,000 homes. The site could accommodate another 200 megawatts of wind power, but WPL has not decided whether to pursue the second phase of the project, utility spokesman Rob Crain said.

Crain declined to release financial terms of the deal.

The announcement came on the same day that Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. signed an agreement with enXco of California to buy a 99-megawatt wind farm in Iowa. WPS said its project is valued at $251 million including both acquisition and construction costs.

The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of September.

Both utilities are pursuing more wind energy to help them comply with Wisconsin’s renewable energy mandate, which requires 10% of the state’s electricity supply to be generated by renewables by 2015.

That mandate could expand. Gov. Jim Doyle’s energy plan calls for 25% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025, and the global warming task force appointed by Doyle is evaluating an increase in the state’s renewable energy mandate.

The announcement by WPL comes as it has a proposal for a new coal-fired power plant pending with state regulators. The utility is seeking to build a new plant in Cassville along the Mississippi River in southwestern Wisconsin.

The $850 million to $950 million 300-megawatt coal plant is opposed by environmental groups Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club because it would increase emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.

But the plant has a renewable flavor, as WPL has pledged to generate up to 10% of the power from its coal plant from renewable resources such as wood, switchgrass or corn stalks.

WPL has a 68-megawatt wind project under construction in Fond du Lac County. That project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

By Thomas Content

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

23 April 2008