Renewable Energy Group Inc. and Minnesota-based Juhl Energy are proposing to construct a single wind turbine northwest of the company’s biodiesel production facility near Glenville.
The turbine is planned to be 453 feet tall with a rotor diameter of 381 feet.
The companies are seeking a conditional use permit from the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners for the project, along with a variance to allow the turbine to be built closer to the cropland property boundary but as far away as possible from neighboring homes, said Kent Hartwig, director of corporate affairs for Renewable Energy Group.
The proposal calls for placing the turbine about 2,622 feet from the REG property on land that was formerly owned by Exol and is now owned by Jim and Mary Nelson, Hartwig said. A portion of the property would be leased from them for the project, and energy would be transmitted through an underground electrical line directly to the REG plant.
Hartwig said the site is over a half mile in each direction from the nearest homes – approximately 3,010 feet from the nearest home to the north, approximately 3,305 feet from the home to the south and a little more distant for the home to the west.
“We have located the turbine to provide the greatest separation from nearby homes as possible and at the same time, as close to the REG facility as possible,” he said. “The reason is that the larger separation distance will result in the greatest reduction in the chances that the neighbors hear the turbine.”
The project is expected to go before the county’s Board of Adjustment this month for the variance application and before the Planning and Zoning Committee in July for the conditional use permit application, according to the company’s timeline. Both issues are slated to come before the Board of Commissioners in August.
Plans are for groundbreaking to take place in September if the applications are approved, with the project to be completed and operational by Dec. 31. Grading work will be finished in spring 2021.
The company said the project will allow it to harness wind energy for a long-term supply of cleaner and reliable energy and displace a predominantly fossil fuel-based electricity, saving 68,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the first 10 years of the project.
Once the turbine is up and running, the project will also pay the county an estimated $35,000 of wind production taxes over the same timespan.
REG produces over 35 million gallons of biodiesel per year and delivers to nearly 240 locations nationwide. Constructed in 2005 as SoyMor Biodiesel, the plant was acquired by REG in 2011 and went through $21 million in upgrades in 2013.
The facility, which employs 36 people, uses a variety of feedstocks generated from the ethanol industry and food waste recyclers, including waste fats, oils and greases, to create a cleaner-burning alternative to petroleum diesel.
Headquartered in Minnesota, Juhl Energy has worked with other partners on over 25 community-based wind projects, including multiple projects in southern Minnesota. It specializes in small projects, such as the one planned for REG Albert Lea.
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