Wind power could be on the rise in Minnesota

A Cass County wind farm is in the works but it’s not yet a done deal. Wind energy company WPCS International Inc. is developing the Windtron I wind farm in Cass County.

Matt Cumberworth, vice president of wind energy for WPCS, said the main concern are some critical landowners have not yet signed on to lease but the company has secured 3,600 of the total 5,300 acres needed.

He said the goal is about 40 wind turbines for a 100-megawatt project, but at this stage nothing is certain.

"That has a lot to do with how the interconnect study comes back and the impact study comes back," Cumberworth said. "We’re getting close. I’ve done 16 preliminary designs already. Every time we acquire more land, everything changes."

He declined to say where the wind power project area is but he expects to have more specific information within a month.

Cass County Chairman Dave Parish said the county was ready for WPCS in terms of regulations as other wind power companies had express interest in starting wind farms in the past although they eventually fell though.

"This is the third or fourth, but in the meantime we’ve created a wind power ordinance," Parish said. "I’m sure glad we had waited. I see in Lee County there’s another lawsuit. It’s a matter of how they’re taxed and that’s been the problem all along."

During a meeting with county officials and WPCS last week there was discussion on some other hurdles the company faces for developing a wind farm.

Some of the township roads are not suitable to accommodate the weight and large turning radius of trucks bringing in the turbine blades and towers.

Parish said the company will have to construct better roads, if even on a temporary basis, to install the equipment.

"In some cases, we’ll see if we can’t keep some of the improvements," Parish said.

Parish said there will be another meeting held soon, though no date is set, as the company still needs to file some additional applications and pay citing fees.

Cumberworth said WPCS is still leasing land and waiting for the results of the interconnect agreement and transmission study. Wind and environmental assessments are still ongoing but a fatal flaw analysis — which addresses issues regarding blocking radar signals, environmental effects and air traffic hazards — has already been filed with the county.

Parish said county officials are in favor of bringing the wind farm to the area. "After all, it is a private enterprise and these things can be a boon to the local economy and the land owners," Parish said. "If I had some land I’d be saying, ‘Yes, yes.’"

By Cody Bozarth, Jacksonville Journal-Courier,