"We are very pleased with the MPUC’s decision today," said Barbara Swan, President-WPL. "The addition of Bent Tree to our wind portfolio helps pave the way for WPL to provide 12% of our retail energy supply from renewable energy sources by 2012, furthering our commitment to finding emissions-free sources of energy that complement our existing baseload generation."
WPL plans to develop approximately 200 megawatts (MW) of emissions-free wind energy on the Bent Tree Wind Farm site – enough energy to power approximately 50,000 homes. The MPUC approval comes three months after the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) approved the plan.
The 200 MW wind power project will cost approximately $425 to $475 million, excluding allowance for funds used during construction, with commercial operation anticipated in 2011.
Wind power is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and wind farms in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are leading the way.
Alliant Energy is proud to be a national leader in the development and use of wind energy, purchasing emissions-free energy from more than 300 large-scale turbines at 17 wind farms across the upper Midwest. Alliant Energy also owns and operates Cedar Ridge Wind Farm, a 68 MW facility in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Construction is currently underway at Whispering Willow Wind Farm in Franklin County, Iowa. The 200 MW wind farm will be Alliant Energy’s second owned and operated wind farm. And development plans are underway for the third company owned and operated wind farm, Bent Tree Wind Farm, in Freeborn County, Minnesota.
Frequently asked questions about wind power
Why use wind power?
Wind power is a free, non-polluting, renewable resource. No matter how much is used, there will still be a plentiful supply in the future.
What is a wind farm?
Wind farms are clusters of turbines that generate electricity. Wind is a free and renewable resource that produces clean energy – no emissions, no waste products. Wind farms are located in areas with reliably favorable wind speeds.
What causes wind?
The wind that turns the turbine blades is a form of solar energy. The sun warms the earth’s atmosphere unevenly, causing the air to move and swirl, creating wind.
For centuries, wind movement has been converted into mechanical power for low-tech jobs like watering cattle. Now, we can use it to efficiently turn high-tech turbines for electrical generation.
Does using wind power really make a difference for the environment?
Yes! A single utility-scale wind turbine can prevent the emission of 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere per year. It would take a 500-acre forest to dissipate the same amount of CO2 – a “greenhouse gas” that contributes to global warming.
Why does wind power cost more?
Facilities that use renewable resources to generate electricity are currently more expensive to build and operate. However, the cost of development power has decreased by 20 percent since the 1980s.
Increased customer demand for renewable energy should lead to the development of more renewable resources like wind, as well as lower prices. In addition, the federal Energy Production Tax Credit is helping utilities invest in new wind facilities.
Is Alliant Energy really committed to wind power, or is it just for the publicity?
We’re proud to be an industry leader in the development and use of wind power, and it’s a key element of our long-term generation plan .
In 2005, we added 150 MW of wind power from the Endeavor Wind Farm in Iowa. By 2008, we’re planning to add another 100 MW of wind power in Iowa, with the option of an additional 200 MW.
Can I use wind power at home or work?
While we can’t directly send wind-generated electricity to your house or business, you can support the growth of wind power – and solar and biomass energy – through our Second Nature™ program .
Facts and figures about wind power
Wind power in the United States:
* In 2008, the U.S. wind industry installed 8,358 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy generating capacity. That’s enough to power more than two million American homes.
* According to initial estimates by the American Wind Energy Association, the new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42 percent of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year. These new wind projects will avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking more than seven million cars off the road.
* As of the end of 2008, wind energy generating capacity in the U.S. stands at 25,170 MW. That’s enough energy to power nearly seven million homes.
* The Midwest has some of the highest wind power potential on earth. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin all rank in the top 20 states for wind power potential.
* Currently, wind power supplies about 1.5 percent of the nation’s total electricity production at a cost of about 2.5 cents more per kilowatt-hour, after federal tax credits, than electricity generated by standard sources.
Wind power in Iowa:
* With 2,790 MW installed, Iowa passed California and now only trails Texas in installed wind power generating capacity.
* 15 percent of the electricity generated in Iowa comes from wind.
* Iowa has the potential to produce 4.8 times its own annual electrical consumption through wind power.
Wind power in Wisconsin:
* In 2009, Wisconsin is home to six large scale wind farms, with nearly 400 MW’s of wind power capacity.
* Fond du Lac County and northeastern Dodge County are currently home to three of the six, with another scheduled to go online this year.
* Wisconsin currently ranks 16th in existing wind capacity and 18th in potential capacity.
Wind power in Minnesota:
* Minnesota ranks fourth nationwide with more than 1,700 MW of installed wind capacity, as of January, 2009.
* Since 2004, Minnesota has increased its installed wind capacity by 185%
* According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Minnesota has the potential capacity for 75,000 MW of wind energy, which ranks it 9th nationally.
Wind turbines and wind farms:
* Based on the current U.S. utility fuel mix, a single one MW turbine displaces nearly 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide, nine tons of sulfur dioxide and four tons of nitrogen oxide each year.
* One MW of wind capacity can generate over 3,000 megawatt-hours annually. The average American home uses approximately 10.7 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, so that one MW of wind capacity is enough to supply more than 250 American homes.
* An ideal location for a wind farm is one that has an average annual wind speed of at least 14 miles per hour.
Alliant Energy is an energy-services provider with subsidiaries serving approximately 1 million electric and 400,000 natural gas customers. Providing its customers in the Midwest with regulated electric and natural gas service is the company’s primary focus. Wisconsin Power and Light, the company’s Wisconsin utility subsidiary, serves approximately 450,000 electric and 175,000 natural gas customers. Alliant Energy, headquartered in Madison, Wis., is a Fortune 1000 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LNT.