Plans are proceeding for Milwaukee to erect a 154-foot tall wind turbine this summer next to the Port Authority building near the Hoan Bridge.
The stimulus-funded project would generate more than enough electricity to power the port office building and sell a small amount of power back to the grid.
Some Bay View residents had raised concerns about a different alternative for the project, which would have been closer to the lake, next to the Lake Express ferry terminal.
A community meeting about the project attracted hundreds of people on a snowy evening in January. At that time, about one-third of those in attendance were in favor, another third were opposed and another third were seeking more information, said Ald. Tony Zielinski.
Zielinski said he was pleased that a compromise could be reached to address concerns about the original site.
The location by the Port Administration building, 2323 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive, is an improvement, Zielinski said, for “people who were fearful of the detrimental effect on the aesthetics of the lakefront by virtue of having it so close to the lake.”
Other concerns had been raised about the other site, which would have put up a turbine or several small turbines on a confined disposal facility next to the Lake Express car ferry terminal.
“We received a lot of push back primarily because of public trust doctrine issues and the impact on waterfowl and migratory birds in that area,” said Matt Howard, director of the city’s office of environmental sustainability.
Public trust concerns were raised about whether a wind turbine would be an appropriate use of land on the lakefront site.
“They listened well and took that to heart in the planning for this alternate site,” said Aaron Schultz, spokesman for the Lake Express ferry.
The turbine is aimed to be a demonstration of the city’s commitment to renewable energy, Howard said.
“This seems to be a good compromise position. The wind profile is still great at that site, and we’re still looking at being able to generate between 110% and 150% of that building’s energy needs,” he said.
Assuming the project clears one more regulatory hurdle, the city hopes to begin construction of the turbine in June or July, Howard said.
The project would not use any city taxpayer money but would instead be funded with a combination of $400,000 in federal renewable energy stimulus funding as well as matching $100,000 grants from the state Focus on Energy program and We Energies.
We Energies spokesman Barry McNulty said Saturday the utility will honor $100,000 the commitment it made for this project and other approved projects. The utility said that it was not accepting new applications for renewable energy project grants because it is terminating the program.
The utility’s commitment is contingent on the project being awarded funding from Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program that is funded by utility customers across the state, McNulty said.
The wind turbine that the city selected is less than half the height of a utility-scale wind turbine, such as those erected in Fond du Lac County in recent years.
It’s shorter than the Bay View Terrace condominium tower along the lake, but taller than the small turbines that are outside the Discovery World museum.
It would generate enough electricity over a year’s time to power up to 15 typical homes, and would exceed the Port building’s electricity use as well.
The city is forecasting savings on utilities plus energy-related revenues totaling $14,000 to $20,000 a year.
The turbine that’s planned for the site is the same model as those built in recent years around the state, at Wausau East High School, the Fort Atkinson campus of Madison Area Technical College and the Village of Cascade in Sheboygan County.
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