Wind farm not just a lot of hot air
In the near future, residents of northeast Columbia County could see a skyline inhabited with large windmill-looking things spinning in the distance.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing (unless, of course, that distance isn’t too distant for you) .
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is finalizing its list of conditions for construction of the Glacier Hills Wind Park in the south-central Wisconsin county.
We Energies is figuring out exactly where the 90 turbines will go on the 17,000 acres of farmland in towns of Randolph and Scott. The turbines could be about 400 feet tall and could generate up to 209 megawatts of electricity, according to fellow Hot Topics blogger Paul Snyder. Although they probably will generate less because of noise concerns.
The PSC has set noise limits at 50 decibels during cold days and 45 decibels at night during warm months. What does 50 decibels sound like? Try talking to yourself right now (go ahead, the people around you already know you’re crazy). That’s 50 decibels. What does 45 decibels sound like? Ever have a mosquito buzz your ear?
Because of the noise, We Energies could opt for turbines capable of generating 1.8 megawatts each, for a total of 162 megawatts.
Even at max generation, We Energies would need other renewable energy projects to meet a statute requiring the state and utilities have 10 percent renewable energy output by 2015. And if the global warming task force bill passes, state law will require 25 percent by 2025.
Once the turbines are in place (Glacier Hills is expected to be up and running by late 2011), getting the power to the people is not so much of an issue. American Transmission Co. already has 600 megawatts of wind energy connected to the grid in Wisconsin, according to a story this week in The Daily Reporter.
The real issue is whether wind farms, or any other renewable energy projects, are worth the price. For a state government that seemingly wants to kick its dependence on “old” power (and you can tell how serious lawmakers are by the number of times the word “California” has come up recently in the legislature), the answer seems to be “yes.”