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Wind power ‘extremely viable’ in Winona County  

The $4.8 million project received a $1.4 million U.S. Department of Energy stimulus grant. Under the terms of the contract, the county could buy the turbines in five years. Besides the two Gundersen Lutheran turbines, there is room in the county for perhaps another 100 more, Juhl said. The county is limited because wind on bluffsides and valleys is too weak or unpredictable, he said. Also, there are many more homes in the county than in the southwest and, by law, turbines must be at least 1,000 feet from an occupied home; he prefers them to be up to 1,500 feet away.

Credit:  By John Weiss, The Post-Bulletin, postbulletin.com 27 January 2012 ~~

In October, in a field east of Altura, two large wind-powered turbines began to spin, producing enough electricity for 375 homes and demonstrating that wind power is possible in parts of Winona County.

There were questions whether the county, with its bluffs, valleys and homes, would be feasible for wind turbines, said Anne Morse, Winona County Sustainability Coordinator. The goal of the project, which the county promoted, was to demonstrate that Winona County wind is strong and consistent enough for turbines, she said. “We have really done that,” he said. “Our goal was achieved, it’s great.”

They are finding the turbines produce power 35 to 38 percent of full capacity, which is nearly as efficient as the wind farms in southwest Minnesota, considered the best place in the state for wind power, she said. The two Winona County turbines produce 1.5 megawatts of power.

Once that project began, it convinced Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wis., to add two more turbines, with a total capacity of 4.95 megawatts just north of Lewiston, she said.

Corey Juhl, vice president of project development for Juhl Wind of Spirit Lake, which developed the Altura site, said each of the turbines has a 229-foot-tall tower with three rotors that spin a circle with a 187-foot diameter. They are the first used in the U.S. to be made by Unison of South Korea. The site had more than enough wind for bigger turbines but the local power lines couldn’t take any more than what the two produce, he said. The power is all used in the area, he said.

Now that the turbines have been tuned, “they are performing very nicely out there,” he said.

It helped that the landowners where the turbines were built were very cooperative, he said. “We couldn’t have gotten the project done without them,” he said.

The $4.8 million project received a $1.4 million U.S. Department of Energy stimulus grant. Under the terms of the contract, the county could buy the turbines in five years.

Besides the two Gundersen Lutheran turbines, there is room in the county for perhaps another 100 more, Juhl said. The county is limited because wind on bluffsides and valleys is too weak or unpredictable, he said. Also, there are many more homes in the county than in the southwest and, by law, turbines must be at least 1,000 feet from an occupied home; he prefers them to be up to 1,500 feet away.

“Wind is definitely viable” in Winona County, Juhl said.

Source:  By John Weiss, The Post-Bulletin, postbulletin.com 27 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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