Minnesota Gives Wind Grant to Community Group

January 04, 2006

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has awarded a $200,000 grant for a wind turbine project in northwest Winona County. The project will be developed under a joint powers authority with seven owners: Winona County; Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical; St. Charles Economic Development Authority; St. Charles School District; Lewiston Economic Development Authority; Winona State University; Lewiston-Altura School District. Additional owners may be included, but will be limited to local units of government, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions.

The project proposal calls for installing a 2-megawatt wind turbine that will generate an estimated 5,631,000 kilowatt-hours, the equivalent annual electricity use of about 700 Minnesota homes. The proposed wind turbine will be manufactured by India-based Suzlon Energy. Governor Tim Pawlenty recently announced that Suzlon would build its first U.S. production facility in Pipestone, Minnesota. The $14 million plant will employee 100 people and supply wind tower blades and nose cones to the North American market.

In August, the Minnesota Department of Commerce announced that it would award grants for grid connected utility scale community wind energy projects in the state. The projects must be 900 kilowatts or more and must be installed and operating with a Minnesota electric utility by June 2007. Community projects include educational institutions, non-profit organizations, tribal governments, and units of Minnesota government. The projects may be located anywhere in the state except in Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, and Rock counties, where significant amounts of wind energy is now generated and transmission is constrained. See the state of Minnesota press release.