Wind Farm Is Wisconsin Clean Energy Leader

Wisconsin has a big new source of renewable energy – its biggest, as a matter of fact. We Energies said it has commissioned its Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County, putting into service the largest wind-power plant in the state (and there’s no solar or hydro that beats it, from what we could tell). The 163-megawatt (MW) capacity project, consisting of 90 turbines installed over 17,000 acres of farmland, is expected to generate enough electricity to power 45,000 homes. We Energies also operates the 88-turbine, 145.2-MW capacity Blue Sky Green Field Wind Center in Fond du Lac County. That had been the largest wind farm in the state before Glacier

The company utilized a local labor force, including Wisconsin contractors Boldt Construction, Edgerton Contractors and Michels Corporation. The turbine towers were manufactured by Broadwind, at its factory in Manitowoc. Since construction began in May 2010, the project has required more than 350,000 labor hours at a cost below the target of $363.7 million set by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, We Energies said.

Wind Farm

image via Chevrolet

“The completion of Glacier Hills on time and on budget was achieved largely through the talents of Wisconsin companies and Wisconsin labor,” said Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive of Wisconsin Energy Corporation, the parent company of We Energies.

We Energies is the trade name of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas, subsidiaries of Wisconsin Energy Corporation. The utilities serve more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and more than 1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. The company in the process of diversifying its renewable energy portfolio to comply with with Wisconsin’s renewable energy standard, which requires that utilities generate 10 percent of their retail energy sales from renewable sources by 2015. In addition to Glacier Hills Wind Park, We Energies is also building a 50-MW biomass plant in Rothschild, Wisc., which is expected to create more than 400 construction jobs and support approximately 150 permanent jobs. The biomass plant is expected to be completed in 2013.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).