We Energies to begin Glacier Hills wind power plant in Wisconsin

Crews will begin site preparation next week for the largest wind farm in Wisconsin, after state regulators finalized plans for the Glacier Hills Wind Park northeast of Madison.

We Energies of Milwaukee said it will erect 90 wind turbines at the wind farm, two more than it installed on its first large wind farm, near Fond du Lac, in 2008.

The cost of the Glacier Hills wind energy project came in at $367 million, utility spokesman Brian Manthey said. By comparison, the 88-turbine Blue Sky Green Field wind farm that opened two years ago cost $295 million.

The tab for We Energies’ customers isn’t yet known, but the company will seek to collect construction costs from ratepayers beginning in 2012, Manthey said.

Friday’s announcement came after the state Public Service Commission approved the sale of two Columbia County homes to We Energies. Both homes would have had at least nine turbines within one-half mile, and the commission directed We Energies to negotiate with the two property owners.

We Energies also had to reconfigure its turbine layout after the commission established bigger setbacks from the wind turbines for neighboring property owners than the utility had proposed.

Those larger setbacks addressed concerns about noise and shadow flicker — a phenomenon created by wind turbines’ rotating blades. The Coalition of Wisconsin Environmental Stewardship had raised concerns about the impact of turbines on property values and homeowners’ qualify of life.

The wind power project is expected to be completed by late 2011 and generate 162 megawatts of power, or enough over a year’s time to supply 45,000 typical homes.

Both projects are needed to help diversify the utility’s energy mix and add more renewable power to comply with the state mandate requiring 10% of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from wind turbines, landfill gas projects and other types of renewable power by 2015, up from 5% this year.

Vestas Wind Systems is supplying wind turbines to We Energies for the Glacier Hills project, after supplying 88 turbines for the Fond du Lac County project.

Three Wisconsin firms have been hired to handle the project’s construction: The Boldt Co. of Appleton; Michels Corp. of Brownsville; and Edgerton Contractors of Oak Creek.

Boldt will build the foundations and erect the turbines, Michels will handle the electrical work. Edgerton will build access roads.

The turbines, each capable of generating 1.8 megawatts of electricity, will be delivered in early 2011. Vestas, based in Denmark, will produce the wind turbines at three Colorado factories.


We Energies will host tours of its 88-turbine Blue Sky Green Field wind project in Fond du Lac County from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The tour will start every 30 minutes or so from the We Energies office at N9470 County Highway W in Malone.

By Thomas Content, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com