Wind farm proposed for southeast Freeborn County

Published 3:24 pm Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Chicago-based company has plans for a 200-megawatt wind farm southeast of Albert Lea.

Invenergy Wind Development for two years has been talking to landowners in the southeast quadrant of Freeborn County. The company anticipates up to 133 wind turbines for what’s to become the Freeborn Wind Resource Project, said Bryan Schueler, vice president of development for the central region, including Minnesota.

“We anticipate being an important part of the community with our business,” Schueler said.

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The completion date remains undetermined.

Presently, the company has a request waiting approval from the organization that governs energy generators hooking up to the electrical transmission grid — MISO, for Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator.

“Once we have that, that will help define our schedule as to how quickly we can move forward,” Schueler said.

Project manager Ron Sepiol said Invenergy has signed lease agreements for close to 25,000 acres in Hayward, Shell Rock, Oakland and London townships.

Schueler said the project has been received well by landowners. He said the project cost is not fully determined.

People who drive on Freeborn County Road 19 probably have noticed a meteorological tower.

Invenergy is an independent wind farm company operating in North America and Europe. Schueler said Invenergy intends to develop, build, own and operate the Freeborn Wind Resource Project. It will be the company for it start to finish.

Work began this spring on a substation for the 200-megawatt Bent Tree Wind Farm northwest of Albert Lea near Hartland and Manchester along Highway 13. That wind farm was developed by Wind Capital Group, then transferred to Alliant Energy subsidiary Wisconsin Power & Light. The energy it generates counts as credit toward Wisconsin mandates for renewable energy sources. It required Wisconsin, Minnesota and local permitting. The Bent Tree project also has a proposal of doubling in size.

The wind farm Invenergy hopes to build southeast of Albert Lea will go through Minnesota and local permitting. Schueler said there are no plans to build the Freeborn Wind Resource Project beyond 200 megawatts.

Schueler said the three closest Invenergy wind farms are:

The 220-megawatt Forward Wind Energy Center in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties in Wisconsin.

 The 100-megawatt Victory Wind Project, built for MidAmerican Energy, in Carroll and Crawford counties in Iowa.

 The 210-megawatt Grand Ridge Energy in LaSalle County, Ill.

The Freeborn Wind Resource Project is the third wind farm announced for Freeborn County. Bent Tree was the first and so far the only one that reached the permitting stage. The second was the Shell Rock Wind Farm. Announced in 2008, Avant Energy Services, the company that manages the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, was looking at building a 44-megawatt wind farm in Pickerel Lake Township southwest of Albert Lea. So far, Avant has not begun requesting permits.

Related stories:

Energy company considers building wind farm

Wind farm officials emphasize safety

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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