MONTFORT, Wis. – A Minnesota energy developer is studying the feasibility of constructing a wind farm in Grant County.
If the project moves forward, PRC Wind, of Minneapolis, would install 25 to 30 turbines in the townships of Clifton and Wingville. The townships are west of Montfort and Livingston on both sides of U.S. 18.
The installations would be capable of generating about 100 megawatts of energy and would represent Grant County’s first wind farm.
The company will construct a temporary meteorological evaluation tower in late November in the Town of Clifton, which will assess the area’s suitability.
“We are measuring wind to make an economic case … to ensure we understand what the wind resource is like,” said Jay Regnier, the company’s vice president of projects.
Another tower already has been installed about three miles west of Montfort. Both will record observations for about one year, after which they can be disassembled.
PRC Wind owns and operates three wind farms in southwest Minnesota. The Montfort project, dubbed the Red Barn Energy Wind Farm, would mark its first foray into Wisconsin. It would span 10,000 to 12,000 acres, according to Regnier.
If the project proceeds, the locations of turbines will be finalized in early 2019 when the company files an application either with Grant County or the state’s utility regulator depending on the farm’s size. Construction would begin no sooner than 2020.
Regnier said wind conditions in Grant County are “favorable” for energy generation, as is the region’s power transmission capacity.
He said the project is not contingent on the construction of the proposed 345-kilovolt Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line, currently under review by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
The project is planned to interconnect on an American Transmission Company 138-kilovolt transmission line, located south of U.S. 18 and West of Wisconsin 80, southeast of Montfort.
Regnier said the company has not determined to whom it will sell the energy.
“We are talking to several people right now,” he said.
Several landowners are willing to have turbines on their property, according to Grant County Supervisor Gary Northouse, whose district includes the project site.
“The farmers really want it because of the economics they are in right now,” he said. “If they want it, and then the community in Montfort is all for it, I’m with them.”
According to the project’s pre-application, the company has signed formal leases and easements with property owners.
With Red Barn, Grant County would join neighboring counties, which have seen the erection of wind installations.
The 30-megawatt Montfort Wind Energy Center lies to the east in Iowa County.
In 2017, EDP Renewables constructed a 49-turbine, 98-megawatt wind farm west of Darlington in Lafayette County.
In anticipation of the farm, Grant County supervisors adopted a wind energy system siting ordinance last week, which establishes regulations pertaining to noise, permitting and setback requirements.
Grant County Board Chairman Bob Keeney characterized the expansion of infrastructure in the region as a positive development, particularly after two power plants in Cassville were shuttered in 2015, which resulted in the phase-out of state utility aid payments.
“We’re trying to come up with other revenue sources,” he said.
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