Monday, April 14, 2008

Major Wind Power Proposal Underscored Need For State Planning Effort

Wisconsin officials are now working to write rules that will eventually determine if offshore wind power can be a major contributor to the state's energy mix.

Part of the reason that officials have begun to address the question, beyond the push for more sustainable energy generation, was an approach to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2007 by a California firm, EWindfarm, Inc., to locate 610 large wind turbines in Lake Michigan offshore from Kewaunee County to Kenosha County, according to DNR documents.

Each turbine tower would be one-to-two miles offshore, 328 feet tall, and connected via underground cables to onshore electrical stations, records show.

The record suggests that neither the state nor the proponent were ready to embark on a project of that scale, though wind power is growing in usage.

Some additional information about Lake Michigan's wind power potential is here.

3 comments:

Chicago Train Stories said...

http://www.undeerc.org/wind/states/WI/Images/WIwind_60m.jpg

Chicago Train Stories said...

wind map

http://www.undeerc.org/wind/states/WI/Images/WIwind_60m.jpg

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm the guy quoted in the Daily Reporter article, to which this post links. (http://www.dailyreporter.com/item.cfm?recid=20048310&snippet=f)
...more about that below.

Better wind map is here:
http://www.focusonenergy.com/files/Document_Management_System/Marketing/W_RI_MKTG_WiWindMapAnnSd70mtr0307.pdf

Notice that this map includes estimated wind speeds in Lake Michigan. This was intentional.

I managed the effort to make the earlier map, and helped pick a vender to make the later map. It's just an estimate, it gives a sense of the differences from place to place, and of the overall trends.

The Daily Reporter said:
"One of Wisconsin’s advantages for land-based wind farming is that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin regulates larger projects, Depillis said. That helps developers avoid a “very vocal minority” of local residents who petition local governments to reject wind farm proposals, he said."

So if a developer can get easements for 10,000-20,000 acres of land, financing for a $200+ million project, and pay lawyers to plow their way through reams of paperwork at the PSCW, it's possible to use that avenue.

On the other hand, if you want to do a medium-sized project, like the kind mentioned in the next paragraph of the Daily Reporter article, and you're not a utility, you're stuck with the kind of delay tactics that have kept wind power out of Calumet County, arguably Wisconsin's best wind resource, since 1998.

That's why supporters of wind power have sought legislative remedy (AB 899 in the last session).

In short, offshore wind power is somewhat of a distraction. Excuse the seasonal pun, but there's plenty of ground to plow on shore in Wisconsin.

Alex DePillis