TOWN OF SCOTT – Along with names, dates and shout-outs to favorite sports teams, the writing on the turbine blade included a warning: “Watch out.”
Mark Barden wrote it, in permanent black marker.
The warning, he said, is aimed at any birds that might fly near the blade once it’s turning, 400 feet in the air.
Wednesday’s open house at the Glacier Hills Wind Park was Barden’s first up-close look at the components of the 90 electricity-generating wind turbines that have begun to rise in the skyline in northeast Columbia County.
But it won’t be his last look. Barden said three of the towers will be on his land in the town of Scott, just outside of Cambria.
He said he doesn’t share the health and safety concerns about the wind towers that many of their opponents cited in seeking to block the construction of Glacier Hills – things such as constant low-level noise and shadow flicker.
“I’m more worried,” he said, “about the red lights at night,” he said. “When I look in the sky and try to find constellations, all I’ll see is the red beacons (on the towers).
“But,” Barden added, “we’ll deal with that.”
Barden was one of several hundred people who attended the open house, which included indoor easel and tabletop displays, and a tour – on foot or by school bus – of one of the four towers that, as of Wednesday, had two of its four segments erected.
Mike Strader, site manager for the We Energies project, said that, barring wind or other inclement weather, plans call for adding the top two segments to at least one of the towers today, with the hub, cell and three blades of the turbine to follow soon.
We Energies is building Glacier Hills on rented farmland encompassing about 17,300 acres in the towns of Scott and Randolph. The nearest communities include Friesland, Cambria and Randolph.
With 90 towers – two more than another We Energies wind farm, Blue Sky Green Acres in Fond du Lac County – this will be Wisconsin’s largest wind-generated energy operation.
Rick O’Connor, We Energies engineering manager, said seventh- and eighth-graders from Markesan who toured the site Wednesday got, at the request of their teacher, a quiz.
Glacier Hills Wind Park is expected to generate 162 megawatts of electricity.
That’s a year’s supply of electricity for how many houses? About 45,0000.
And how much electricity would each turbine generate? Enough to power 500 houses for a year.
Not everyone is thrilled that a wind farm is going up, however, and some anonymous protesters let their feelings be known. Overnight Tuesday and Wednesday, someone put up several signs along the fencelines on county Highway H, on the opposite side of the road from the Glacier Hills headquarters. Among the sign slogans: “Acres of ruined farmland” and “No wind no electricity.”
Strader said differences of opinion are welcome, as are questions.
Wednesday’s open house was designed to give people a close-up look at construction – in the hope that people will, as the project goes on through December, keep their distance from the sites, in the interest of safety.
“We’ve got four of them vertical,” he said, “and 86 to go.”
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