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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Great Lakes wind could boost Wood County economy

From an article by Nathaniel Shuda in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

A Canadian energy producer's latest effort to build a wind farm on the Great Lakes is one of several projects industry officials say is spurring interest in the concept.

The Great Lakes basin serves as a prime location for offshore power facilities because of high wind volumes and space, industry leaders said, which has some south Wood County business leaders poised to take advantage of what they call an invaluable resource.

"It costs a lot more to construct a tower in the water than it does on land, but when you put wind turbines on land, they're set away from cities, so you need transmission lines," said Jenny Heinzen, a wind-energy technology instructor at Lakeland Technical College. "What you're spending in construction is far less than what you'd spend in transmission costs."

Toronto-based Trillium Power Wind Corp. is gearing up for its planned 710-megawatt offshore wind facility in the middle of Lake Ontario that would power at least 300,000 homes a year in the Canadian province, according to a news release the company issued Thursday.

Its project, which also has connections to Denmark-based wind-energy component producer Vestas Wind Systems, is just one of many recent events the top executive of a Wisconsin Rapids-based manufacturer says further support the company's plans to build what officials now say is a 535,000-square-foot $70 million wind turbine blade plant in the Rapids East Commerce Center.

"The market has validated our conversation," said Sam Fairchild, chief executive officer of Energy Composites, which launched a Great Lakes Consortium in August to help promote the Great Lakes region within the wind-energy industry.

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