READING – More than two dozen people attended a public hearing Monday afternoon in Reading to hear more about a planned 30.75-megawatt wind farm in portions of Summit Lake and Larkin townships in Nobles County.
Community Wind South, also known as CWS Wind Farm LLC, has land leases on parcels located within the horseshoe-shaped Nobles Wind Farm, which was completed in 2010. Plans are for CWS to construct 15 REpower 2.05 megawatt (MW) turbines on approximately 3,080 acres, encompassing Sections 17, 18, 19, 20 and 30 of Summit Lake Township and Sections 13, 23 and 24 of Larkin Township.
Jed Van Sciver, manager of procurement and construction for JUWI Wind LLC, based in Boulder, Colo., said progress is being made on signing a general contractor for the project.
Plans are to mobilize at the site as soon as road weight restrictions are lifted in May.
Work on the laydown yard and transmission lines will take place throughout the summer, with the actual turbine components to arrive in September.
“The whole thing is set to be complete by the end of October,” Van Sciver said.
The turbines will have a hub height of up to 328 feet and a rotor diameter of 303.5 feet, making them approximately 60 feet taller and larger in diameter than the turbines that make up the Nobles Wind Farm.
Of the 15 turbines, 11 will feature red FAA lights on them, which will be synchronized with the turbines in the Nobles Wind Farm.
JUWI Wind has a long history of working with community wind projects, according to Michael Rucker, CEO of JUWI’s wind business in North America. Rucker, also based in Boulder, said he was eager to begin this project.
“We look forward to seeing it out there spinning with the other turbines before long,” he said. “Years of effort were sustained in order to get everything together.”
Erlin Weness, vice president of Community Wind South, read a statement written by David Benson, president of Community Wind South.
Benson, a Nobles County commissioner, was unable to be at Monday’s public hearing because he is attending the National Association of Counties conference in Washington, D.C.
In the statement, Benson thanked the staff and leadership of Xcel Energy for helping to bring the community wind project forward. He also recognized staff of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, Rural Minnesota Energy Board, Southwest Regional Development Commission and SEED Coalition.
“Special recognition is due to Mark Willers and the dedicated staff of Minwind Energy, and to JUWI for their vital and creative partnership with Community Wind South,” Benson wrote in his statement. “Thanks again to our turbine host landowners for putting their trust in us and for their patience and loyalty.”
Approximately 200 landowners will be given an opportunity to purchase shares in the CWS Wind Farm project. Meetings about those investment opportunities are expected this spring.
The CWS proposal has been in the works since 2003, when the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ruled that Xcel Energy needed to offer two 30-watt transmission lines for community wind development, according to Willers, who works out of Luverne.
Between 2004 and 2006, CWS worked to bring its project to fruition while Minwind completed a couple of projects in Rock County.
“Late in 2006, Minwind began assisting in moving this project forward,” Willers said.
Larry Hartman, state permit manager and energy facility permitting with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, led Monday’s attendees through the draft site permit for the CWS Wind Farm project. Permitting of wind energy projects began in Minnesota in 1994, with the first project in southwest Minnesota a 73-turbine wind farm southeast of Lake Benton.
Last year, wind turbines in Minnesota produced more than 7 billion kilowatt hours of energy. The production tax paid by those farms make a significant impact on counties and communities across the state. Benson said this year alone, Nobles County and its townships will receive more than $800,000 in wind energy production tax.
“The people of Nobles County and its residents will be the greatest benefactors from this project,” Benson said. “I have been so happy to be a part of this great venture.”
In addition to Benson and Weness, Community Wind South board members also include Shane Becker, Roland Kutzbach, Chuck Magyar, Rich Lowe, Jerry Perkins, Diane Thier and Larry Voehl.