Wind farm proposed in Pipestone County
PIPESTONE -- EDF Renewable Energy (EDF RE) of Minneapolis has begun moving forward with plans to construct a wind farm on Buffalo Ridge.
The majority of the project will be located in portions of Rock and Burke townships in Pipestone County and a small amount will also be in Chanarambie Township, located in Murray County.
Planning for the Stoneray Wind Project began several years ago. Depending on the turbines selected, up to 59 will be installed within the final project boundary.When completed, the Stoneray Wind Farm station will connect to the Chanarambie station, also owned by EDF RE, and produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 30,000 homes.
"Developing a wind project is no small undertaking," said Jinnie Hall, EDF RE community outreach coordinator. "A significant amount of up-front work has already been completed in preparation for construction and operation of the Stoneray Wind Project."
Preparation work includes migratory and nesting bird studies, cultural resource studies/assessments, meteorological towers installation and wind resource analysis, among other tasks. EDF RE has also been working with the appropriate regulatory agencies to ensure the project is properly sited and permitted.
With more than 25 years of experience in the renewable energy industry, EDF RE has developed a large number of projects in North America, a significant portion of which are located in Minnesota.
"Over the last decade the company has developed 917 megawatts of Minnesota wind projects and employs nearly 100 individuals," Hall said.
Anticipated benefits of the project extend beyond payments to participating landowners and increasing the renewable energy output of the area, Hall added.
"Wind projects bring jobs for local citizens and can bring new families to the area," she said. "Construction of the project spurs the local economy by increasing business to gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores and hotels."
The project is also anticipated to generate tax income for schools, roads and municipal infrastructure.
"The county does get two percent in tax revenue," said Harold "Butch" Miller, chairperson of the Pipestone County Board of Commissioners. "That will help the county levy."
The project is anticipated to have normal impact on local roads during the construction process, the effects of which should be minimal and short-term.
"Usually there is a little wear and tear on the roads -- putting the turbines in -- because there is a lot of traffic for the heavy equipment," Miller said. "In the long term, that will be minimal. I think it's a win win for everyone in the county, and I think it will help the townships as well."
EDR RE, a United States subsidiary of Energies Nouvelles based in France, purchased EnXco Energy about a year ago. The sale included the Chanarambie Wind Farm near Chandler and the plans for the Stoneray Wind Farm.
Like the wind farm slated for construction by Xcel Energy in Jackson and Cottonwood counties, the project is advancing as the deadline for the the U.S. Department of Energy's wind production tax credit program draws closer. If EDF RE begins construction before Dec. 31, or if it spends a minimum of five percent of the project's total cost, it would qualify for the program. Projects of similar size to the proposed Stoneray Wind Farm generate about $5.2 million in revenue from the production tax credit program.
The date for the project's groundbreaking for the project is still undetermined, and depends on permitting requirements and signing a purchase power agreement.
"As we look to the future, construction and installation will begin once a power purchase agreement is secured and all of the applicable permits are acquired," Hall said.