Shell Rock Wind Farm on track for public hearing

Published 9:29 am Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Plans for a 44-megawatt wind farm in Pickerel Lake Township are being heard in front of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission this week.

On Thursday, the commission is slated to make a decision about whether to award a draft site permit for the Shell Rock Wind Farm, proposed southwest of Albert Lea.

If the permit is granted, this will trigger a public comment period, and a public informational meeting would be held in the project area in Freeborn County, said Senior Project Executive Bruce Freeman, with Avant Energy Inc., the company looking to build the wind farm.

Avant Energy manages the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, which supplies power to 11 communities ranging from Le Sueur to Anoka to East Grand Forks.

Freeman said the meeting will give the public the opportunity to find out more about the project and to ask questions. The public comment period is open for a minimum of 10 days following the informational meeting.

The project encompasses 7,433 acres in Pickerel Lake Township, about three miles west of Albert Lea. Depending on the turbine model selected, it would include 24 to 29 wind turbine generators.

Plans are for either General Electric 1.5-megawatt wind turbine generators or Vestas 1.8-megawatt wind turbine generators.

When completed, power will ultimately be delivered to the existing ITC Midwest overhead transmission line.

The goal of the company is for commercial operation by Dec. 31, 2012.

Copies of the site application are available for review at the Albert Lea Public Library, the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office, at city offices in Alden, Albert Lea and Conger and with the township clerk in Pickerel Lake.

The Shell Rock Wind Farm would be less than roughly one-fifth of the size of the current Bent Tree Wind Farm, owned and operated by Wisconsin Power & Light.

This wind farm has 122 turbines and is capable of producing up to 201 megawatts of energy. It has the potential of growing into a 400-megawatt farm.