Madison utility Madison Gas and Electric said Tuesday that it plans to build a $107 million, 66-megawatt wind farm in Howard County, Iowa, that would become the company’s largest wind farm to date.
The project, known as Saratoga, will consist of 33-turbines on a 10-square-mile site about 200 miles west of Madison. The site is well situated because of its strong winds and proximity to transmission infrastructure, according to a press release from the utility, which is a subsidiary of MGE Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: MGEE) of Madison.
If approved, construction could begin in early 2018 and deliver enough electrical power for approximately 47,000 homes by the end of 2018. The company said wind turbine technology has improved with larger turbines producing energy more efficiently, making them a cost-effective, clean-energy option.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our customers and continues the progress we’ve made in reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy,” chairman, president and CEO Gary Wolter said. “With recent advances in technology, this project represents a long-term, cost-effective strategy for MGE to continue to transition to cleaner energy sources.”
The project is the latest in MGE’s Energy 2030 framework, under which the company pledges to supply 30 percent of its electric sales with renewable resources by 2030, with plans to reach 25 percent by 2025. The framework’s other efforts include MGE’s Shared Solar project in partnership woth the city of Middleton, reduction of its ownership in the coal-fired Columbia Energy Center in Portage, the introduction of the Charge@Home electric vehicle home charging pilot program, and the Smart Thermostat Demand Response Pilot Program for residential customers, which, if approved, could be rolled out later this year allowing MGE to communicate with participating customers’ smart thermostats to manage demand during peak periods of electric use.
MGE began identifying potential locations for the wind project more than a year ago. The utility secured the rights to the Saratoga site last year from the site’s initial developer, RPM Access LLC, which had designated the site for wind development.
MGE plans to take advantage of federal renewable electricity production tax credits. On Tuesday, MGE notified the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin of its intent to seek approval to build Saratoga. MGE anticipates filing its formal application with the PSC in March.
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