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Wind farm placed on hold

CONGER – Plans for a 44-megawatt wind farm in Pickerel Lake Township are on hold pending an interconnection agreement.

Bruce Freeman, senior project executive with Avant Energy which is looking to build the Shell Rock Wind Farm, said it’s not likely the project will be able to move forward with the original plan of construction in 2012.

“Construction in 2012 is unlikely,” Freeman said.

The wind farm project did receive its site permit in early December, but will be waiting now for MISO, Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, to work out interconnection issues. MISO governs the electrical grid for the Midwest.

The process is taking longer than anticipated because MISO must work with the wind farm and ITC Midwest, which operates the transmission lines where the wind farm would like to be located.

Simply put, the Shell Rock Wind Farm will not be moving forward until MISO finishes its study and tells Avant Energy the final cost for connecting to the electrical grid. Freeman said they don’t want to move forward until they know all the costs involved and that other wind farms in the state are facing the same issue.

“MISO might come to determine and assign a cost to the project and we would have to determine whether it makes it financially viable or not,” Freeman said. “Without knowing what the costs are it’s hard to move forward.”

Background

Avant Energy Inc. is looking to build a 44-megawatt wind farm in Pickerel Lake Township, south of County Road 46 and east of Conger. Avant Energy manages the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, which supplies power to 11 communities ranging from Le Sueur to Anoka to East Grand Forks.

Plans for the project include up to 29 wind turbines, which would either be 1.5-megawatt General Electric turbines or 1.8-megawatt Vestas turbines. The project’s plans were heard in front of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in June.

The Shell Rock Wind Farm would be roughly one-fifth the size of Freeborn County’s other wind farm, Bent Tree Wind Farm, which is owned and operated by Wisconsin Power & Light. Bent Tree Wind Farm has 122 turbines and is capable of producing up to 201 megawatts of energy.