1/22/10 Dear Columbia County, Did you know those 90 Glacier Hills turbines come with an automatic extra 18 turbine 'Country Cousin'?
PSC STILL SORTING OUT DETAILS OF COLUMBIA COUNTY WIND FARM
By Lyn Jerde, Daily Register, portagedailyregister.com
January 21 2010
Within days, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin will finalize its list of conditions for the construction of a wind farm in northeast Columbia County.
But officials of We Energies already are planning where the turbines will go and determining whether the PSC’s conditions will allow erecting all 90 of them.
On Jan. 11, the PSC approved a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the wind farm, called Glacier Hills Wind Park, on about 17,300 acres of farmland in the towns of Scott and Randolph.
The proposal called for 90 turbines, each about 400 feet tall, capable of generating up to 207 megawatts of electricity.
The commission met again Wednesday, this time to draft the specifics of conditions that the commissioners had discussed Jan. 11 before granting approval for the project.
PSC spokeswoman Teresa Smith said Monday is the deadline for the formal list of conditions to be in the hands of We officials. The list is undergoing final editing, based on the discussion of the commission at its meeting in Madison on Wednesday.
We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said he listened to the live electronic broadcast of Wednesday’s meeting and has heard nothing in the proposed conditions that could stall or stop the utility’s plans to start construction late this spring.
The most challenging condition, however, is a minimum 1,250-foot setback between each turbine and the property of landowners who are not leasing any land for the turbines, Manthey said.
The original proposal, with 90 preferred turbine sites and 28 alternate sites, included a minimum setback of 1,000 feet from nonparticipating landowners, he said.
The hope, he added, is that “preferred sites” that are closer than 1,250 feet can be replaced with alternate sites that meet the setback requirement, thus allowing all 90 turbines to be built. It’s too early, however, to determine whether the setback rules will result in fewer turbines going up, he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll be up to that number of 90,” he said, “but it might be a different 90 than we’d planned.”
The PSC’s condition limiting the noise of the turbines also is a factor, Manthey said – not only in where they are located, but also in the type of turbines eventually used in Glacier Hills.
The commissioners set noise limits of 50 decibels day and night during colder months and 50 decibels by day and 45 decibels by night during the warmer months when people often like to sleep with their windows open.
Minimizing noise is one reason why We Energies is considering turbines capable of generating 1.8 megawatts each, for a total of 162 megawatts. Manthey noted that these turbines would be about as tall as the ones that would, all together, generate the 207-megawatt maximum allowed by the PSC. The difference in the turbines, which accounts for the difference in the noise they create, is the size of the attached generators.
No final decision has been made regarding the generation capacity of the turbines that soon will be part of Columbia County’s skyline.
But even if the project were to generate the maximum power allowed, Manthey said, We Energies still would need other renewable energy projects to meet the state requirement of generating 10 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2015. (Those standards might go up. There’s legislation pending in Wisconsin to raise the renewable energy standards for utilities to 20 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025.)
We Energies has another renewable project pending – a power plant built on the premises of a paper mill near Rothschild, south of Wausau, that would burn waste wood left over from the paper-making process.
Meanwhile, Manthey said, it’s not certain when Columbia County residents can look for trucks carrying the huge wind turbine components down the country roads. The initial construction work will entail site preparation and foundation building. Glacier Hills is expected to be up and running by late 2011.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: According to following press release, the 90 turbine Glacier Hills wind farm mentioned above has an 18 turbine "country cousin."
New 30-Megawatt Wind Project in Columbia County Approved
PRESS RELEASE: E Wind LLC last week received approval to proceed with its 30-megawatt, 18-turbine wind project near Friesland, Wisconsin and the recently approved Glacier Hills wind project to be built and owned by WE Energies.
E Wind LLC is the country cousin to the larger Glacier Hills project, being developed by some local landowners and entrepreneurs who are determined to not let all renewable energy (and money) go to the big companies. Bob Lange, an E Wind member who farms near Columbus remarked, "I was involved in the development of the UWGP ethanol plant in Friesland and saw all these wind measurement towers being installed in the area by several large wind developers; that got me thinking that wind energy might be the next renewable energy of choice for the area." Bob found a few others to join him and off they set to put together a wind project. It included finding willing landowners to lease their property for turbines, paying the transmission owners to study the electrical connection of their project, installing a 200-foot tall wind measurement tower, and approaching the Town of Randolph about receiving permission to build the project.
Wes Slaymaker, P.E., of WES Engineering LLC, a Madison-based wind energy consulting company who is acting as the E Wind LLC project engineer, commented, "We staked some possible turbine locations in the winter of 2008 and spent the next year moving those locations around to address all the concerns of the landowners and community members." Later E Wind hired Cullen Weston Pines and Bach LLP, a Madison law firm, to assist the project with negotiating a development agreement with the Town of Randolph.
Unfortunately, E Wind’s timing was poor as the Glacier Hills project had recently been announced by We Energies and the local area was inflamed with concerns regarding how that large wind project would affect their homes and communities. The E Wind members spent plenty of their evenings attending town and village meetings. They hoped to get some sympathy from the area residents as the local project and eventually convinced the town to vote to approve the E Wind project, contingent upon the approval of the larger Glacier Hills project.