Bent Tree Wind Farm up and running

The 122 turbine facility, located near Albert Lea, MN will produce enough electricity to power about 50,000 homes.

02/14/2011


Alliant Energy Corp. Bent Tree Wind FarmWisconsin Power and Light Co. said it has finished construction of its Minnesota wind farm and that it is generating power. The $460 million project began delivering power to the Midwest electricity grid Monday morning, about a week ahead of the company's most recent projection, utility spokesman Steve Schultz said.

The Bent Tree Wind Farm near Albert Lea, Minn., consists of 122 turbines capable producing up to 201 megawatts of electricity. Over a year's time, that's enough to power about 50,000 homes, according to the utility.

Wisconsin's renewable electricity mandate requires that 10 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2015. The Legislature last year opted not to up the ante on the state's renewable mandate when it didn't vote on a bill that would have required 25 percent of the state's power to come from renewable sources by 2025, similar to Minnesota's standard.

The state Public Service Commission said the Madison utility has generated more than 5 percent of its power from renewable sources in 2009 and that the Bent Tree project would enable it to comply with the 2015 mandate.

The utility began generating power from its first wind farm, Cedar Ridge in Fond du Lac County, in late 2008. WP and L is a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corp., Madison.

Customer groups and state regulators had criticized Alliant for not disclosing details about transmission line constraints that prevent some of the power generated from the project from getting onto the power grid.

In a recent report, Alliant said it saw far fewer such grid bottlenecks in recent months as the project started generating test power. It's still forecasting that it won't be able to achieve full output from the wind project onto the grid until a power line upgrade is completed early next year.

- Edited by Gust Gianos, CFE Media, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, www.csemag.com