New Wind Turbines for 11 Minnesota Cities
This summer, Anoka, Buffalo, North St. Paul and 8 other Minnesota cities are gearing up for the production of wind energy. They will use recycled turbines for this purpose. In Buffalo, the work will start from June. After the completion of this project Buffalo will have the honor of the first city with one of the 115-foot-tall turbines among the 11-member cities of the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). They are getting the windmills from Palm Springs, California wind farm . Payment will be done by the joint-powers agency which has agreed to pay about $3.6 million for a dozen refurbished windmills. The Hometown WindPower program is aspiring to meet a state law that calls for most electrical utilities to provide 25 percent of their total electricity sales from renewable sources by 2025. These non conventional sources can be wind or water power. Officials confirmed that Shakopee, North St. Paul and Buffalo have picked sites for the 160-kilowatt windmills. Buffalo utilities director Joe Steffel wants to start work on this project by June 1.
Schools are also sensitized towards the use of clean and green fuels. The City Council approved a windmill permit last week. They will install a turbine near Buffalo High School, which will use it to teach children about green energy. Chaska and Anoka have yet to confirm the exact sites. Anoka leaders are also enthusiastic about the project. They cleared the path for wind energy project by granting preliminary approval to a wind turbine ordinance.
We have skeptical people too who think that implementation of this project will be a waste of money. Anoka Mayor Phil Rice belongs to that category. Rice states, “In my mind it is foolishness. The government is mandating it, and we will comply so we don’t have to pay a fine. We have to try to develop green energy, and we need to be willing to fail a few times.”
But Dave Boyles, who is the WindPower project manager, differs from Rice. He thinks that fossil fuels or nuclear energy will be costlier in future. This fact will make windmills more competitive in 20-year period. He said that in return for tax subsidies, citizens “will be getting a reliable source of renewable energy that does not contribute to climate change and has no carbon footprint.”
The 11 cities are at various stages of getting permits and site approvals, and all are expected to erect windmills by year’s end, officials said. It is estimated that the windmills will not cover the needs of the entire cities. They can share a small portion of each city’s power needs, varying from less than 1 percent to 10 percent. Earlier the project team has completed the studies in the 11 cities to make certain they have strong and frequent enough wind for effective power generation.
Wally Wysopal, who is the city manager of the North St. Paul hopes to have windmills in July this year. He said, “We are very pleased to be in a position to soon offer alternative, renewable energy in each one of the communities.” The windmill sites in all the 11 cities will be on the free public lands. The other member cities are Arlington, Brownton, East Grand Forks, Le Sueur, Olivia and Winthrop.
The agency will procure the dozen windmills from enXco Services Corp for about $300,000 each. enXco Services Corp is renewing them in Palm Springs to last another 20 years. The 12th windmill will be installed by the agency’s Faribault natural gas power plant.
The Danish-built turbines should be prepared by May, Boyles said. The agency will take care of the payment with the proceeds from selling renewable energy bonds. These bonds will provide tax credits to bond holders in lieu of interest. The bonds will be reimbursed by electricity charges the 11 cities bill their customers.