The Bent Tree Wind Farm is on schedule

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Representatives overseeing the Bent Tree Wind Farm want to spread a message to the public that they’re on track to begin their project for their new 122 wind-turbine tower farm this spring, with completion aimed for the first quarter of 2011.

Ted Francois, project developer with Alliant Energy, the mother company of Wisconsin Power & Light Co., that is overseeing the project, said the project is currently out for bids.

Once the project is awarded and construction is under way, there could be between 200 and 400 workers at the site at any given time. This includes contractors and subcontractors.

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Kellee Venden, project development specialist, said Bent Tree Wind Farm will be working with the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce to coordinate services with area businesses. Workers will need places to stay and eat, among other services.

Venden said though people don’t see a lot of progress with the project right now, there’s actually a lot happening behind the scenes.

“We’re still planning for success,” Francois said.

In October, the Freeborn County Planning and Zoning Office issued a $17 million permit to WP&L for the wind farm. This covers the cost on-site of construction, specifically the cost of building foundations for the towers.

It does not include the cost of the towers and turbines themselves. They are considered mechanical equipment.

The total project cost is estimated at nearly $500 million.

The wind farm, which will be built on 32,500 acres near Manchester and Hartland townships, is designed to generate 200 megawatts of electricity. However, WP&L could build additional structures and expand the windfarm to 400 megawatts.

The about 120 turbines expected during the first phase of the project will produce enough energy to power 50,000 homes.