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Friday, July 17, 2009

Wisconsin utilities leave home for wind work

From an article by Paul Snyder in The Daily Reporter:

Wisconsin utilities have a track record of building, operating and maintaining their own wind farms, leaving independent producers little reason to build in the state.

But when those same utilities build wind farms in other states, Wisconsin’s economy and construction work force suffer, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

“There’s quite a lot of construction going on in places like Illinois and Iowa where wind producers can sell their product to utilities,” he said. “But here, the market is controlled by utilities.”

And that keeps independent developers from considering Wisconsin, said Timothy Polz, senior project developer with Chicago-based Midwest Wind Energy.

“If utilities prefer to own the projects, it takes away some of the benefits developers can get from constructing or maintaining the farms while selling the power,” he said.

But more troubling, Vickerman said, is that even though utilities have the power to push new developments, they are building beyond state borders. The only major wind farm under development in Wisconsin is We Energies’ Glacier Hill Wind Farm in Columbia County, which will have about 90 turbines and produce 162 megawatts of electricity.

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