Winds in southwest Fillmore County may soon do more than blow hats off of farmers.
EcoEnergy LLC plans to build a 400-megawatt, $850 million wind farm in Bristol Township, a 36-square-mile farming town near Preston, Minn., with a population of about 500.
The Elgin, Ill., alternative energy company is the latest trying to cash in on Mother Nature in Fillmore County. Bristol Township’s prevailing winds have attracted two other wind developers in the past year, according to zoning records.
EcoEnergy’s proposal would span 45,000 acres with 266 industrial wind turbines, each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts and reaching about 400 feet from base to blade, said Paul Roeder, Minnesota and Iowa project manager for EcoEnergy.
EcoEnergy may start construction in early 2009 if wind measurements and permits from the state and county pan out, Roeder said.
California-based enXco Inc. got a permit to set up two meteorological towers to test the wind in both Bristol and Harmony townships in November 2007. Fillmore Wind, which is owned by Larry Tammel, recently applied for a permit to construct a test tower on Tammel’s Bristol Township property.
EcoEnergy currently has a wind test tower in Bristol Township on Les and Kay Prinsen’s farm but recently applied for a permit to install a second on the land of Sean Dols.
The conditional use permits for Fillmore Wind and EcoEnergy will be considered by the Fillmore County planning commission July 24.
Bristol Township’s strong winds, high elevation, continuous parcels and transmission line availability makes for an ideal location, Roeder said.
Local landowners have pledged more than 29,000 acres needed for the 45,000-acre wind farm, Roeder said. He attributes the sign-on success to EcoEnergy’s ethical approach and the down-to-earth attitudes of local farmers.
“We do business right. As we look to build these projects, it’s not just signing up land; it’s about bringing jobs and working with the landowner.” Roeder said.
“We want to be a part of a community as something positive.”
By Amber Dulek
3 July 2008
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