Construction is scheduled to begin May 21 on a new wind project near Woodstock.
The 101 megawatt (MW) Stoneray Wind Project will include 39 Siemens wind turbines – 24 in Rock Township and 12 in Burke Township in Pipestone County and three in Chanarambie Township in Murray County.
Vince Green, project development manager with EDF Renewable Energy, the project’s owner/developer, said there will be 34 Siemens 2.6 MW turbines and five Siemens 2.3 MW turbines in the project.
At full capacity, the electricity generated by the wind farm will be enough to meet the consumption of up to 47,000 average Minnesota homes, which is equivalent to avoiding more than 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to EDF Renewable Energy. That’s about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions given off by 64,000 passenger vehicles driven over the course of one year, according to EDF.
Green said the company plans to complete construction and begin sending electricity onto the grid by Dec. 1. He said the power will be sold on the open market to an as of yet unknown buyer until 2020 when a power purchase agreement with the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) begins.
SMMPA generates and transmits electricity to 18 non-profit, municipally-owned member utility companies in Minnesota. They include Austin, Blooming Prairie, Fairmont, Grand Marais, Lake City, Litchfield, Mora, New Prague, Owatonna, Preston, Princeton, Redwood Falls, St. Peter, Spring Valley, North Branch, Wells, Waseca and Rochester.
Green said the Stoneray project has been in the works since the late 1990s and is now coming to fruition due to market conditions and transmission capabilities.
The Pipestone County Planning Commission during an April 16 meeting recommended the approval of and the Pipestone County Board approved on April 24 two conditional use permits pertaining to the project.
The first conditional use permit would allow Stoneray Power Partners, LLC to construct a 4,800 square-foot wind farm operations and maintenance building on land owned by Roger Kas in the northwest quarter of Section 11 of Burke Township. The second would allow Stoneray Power Partners, LLC to build a temporary wind farm lay down yard on land owned by Richard, Roger and Brian Kas in the southeast quarter of Section 34 in Rock Township.
Conditional use permits are required by the county’s zoning ordinance for business activity and the temporary placement of equipment and operations in an agriculturally-zoned district.
Teresa Heard, mayor of Woodstock, and Dale Heard, a Woodstock City Council member, attended the public hearings and said they supported the project.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Teresa Heard said.
Planning commission members also spoke in support of the projects.
“I think it will be an asset for the city of Woodstock,” said Brad Kruisselbrink.
Green said the maintenance building will be located just outside Woodstock. He said there will be five to eight people working at the building to maintain the wind towers.
Ken McCool, civil superintendent with EDF, said the lay down yard will be removed and the land restored by the end of January 2019.
On May 8, the Pipestone County Board approved a road use agreement and development agreement with Stoneray Power Partners, LLC whereby Stoneray will build up gravel roads and reimburse the county for damage to black top roads that will be used during construction.
Nick Bergman, Pipestone County highway engineer, said Stoneray will add two inches of gravel to around 12 miles, four inches to around 18 miles and five or six inches to around seven miles of gravel roads. It will also replace one culvert and apply dust control. Stoneray will pay the county $369,664.54 for road life consumed and $25,000 for administrative fees that will be split between the highway department and planning and zoning office.
“When it’s all said and done with, the county and the townships have to sign off on the final punch list saying that the roads are back how we want them,” Bergman said.
Project owner/developer EDF Renewable Energy is one of the largest renewable energy developers in North America with nine gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar, biomass, and biogas projects developed throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The Stoneray project will be EDF’s 12th wind project developed in Minnesota that will generate a combined total of over 1.2 GW of electricity.
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