Two new wind turbines just north of Lewiston are spinning after two years of preparation, two months of construction and one act of vandalism.
The $10 million project, part of Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center’s efforts to offset its energy use by funding sustainable-energy projects, will create enough electricity to power about 1,400 homes each year.
“Winona County has stocks of pretty good wind,” said Jeff Rich, executive director of the hospital’s subsidiary that developed the project. “The more we can generate locally, the more we can keep dollars in our local economy.”
The turbines were running Tuesday – after a temporary setback.
Sometime between 10 a.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. Monday, someone broke into the substation by cutting a lock on the fence gate, according to the Winona County Sheriff’s Department. Once inside, the perpetrator cut a single fiber-optic cable bundle that controlled the two turbines, shutting them down. Other equipment, including valuable electronics, was not removed or tampered with, according to the department.
Rich said the cable has been repaired and the damage was minimal.
“We’re up and running again and trying to make sure our security measures are up to date,” Rich said.
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