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Wind project gets initial support in Clay

A Minnesota company plans to construct 20 to 30 wind turbines in Clay, Becker and Otter Tail counties beginning next year.

Officials from Minneapolis-based Project Resources Corp. appeared before the Clay County Commission on Tuesday with information about the venture.

The goal is to build a 50- to 60-megawatt wind power project, with most of the turbines in eastern Clay County, said company President Paul White.

Work on the $85 million to $90 million project has already begun with road, electrical and foundation work, which is expected to take three to four months, White told commissioners.

Erecting the turbines will take another three to four months, he said. The operation is expected to be up and running by winter 2009-10.

The Lakeswind project would deliver its power to Great River Energy’s Tamarac substation in Otter Tail County, White said. The energy would then be purchased by wholesalers and utility companies.

Project Resources has worked with several-dozen landowners to establish leases. Environmental studies are under way, and the company expects to submit its permit request to the state this fall, White said.

“This is a really exciting thing, I think, for the community,” White said.

Commissioners were overall supportive of the idea, asking for more information as it becomes available.

Commissioner Kevin Campbell said he wants to know more about the project’s affect on land values. Commissioner Mike McCarthy asked about the construction timeline.

The size of the turbines has yet to be determined and will dictate how many are erected, he said.

Project Resources has developed wind projects in the Midwest for more than 10 years, according to its Web site. White said the company is now focusing on Minnesota projects. His wife, a Fargo native, suggested the Moorhead area, he said.

The project is being designed with landowners’ issues, concerns and future plans in mind, White said.

One landowner affected by the project attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Terry Hauger of Hawley said the lease agreement is “fairly complex,” and he needs to fully understand it before he would agree to sign it.

He also wants “to have enough turbines to make it worth my while.”

Overall, the project has received “a lot of enthusiasm” from landowners, said Matthias Weigel, project development manager.

Commissioner Jerry Waller called the project “exciting,” particularly with the focus on energy right now.

“It’s a sign of the times,” he said.

Teri Finneman

The Forum