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Wind project could bring 134 turbines to Clay County

Graphic: Wind

More than 130 wind turbines could be twirling in Clay County by 2010, boosting the county's economy.

Noble Flat Hill Windpark aims to construct 134 wind turbines north of Glyndon by 2010, said Project Manager Mike Beckner.

The 201 megawatt-powered wind park would cover a 36-square-mile area, with an estimated price tag of $450 million, Beckner said.

Anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million from lease payments could be divided by the townships and school districts, Beckner said, saying it would be a "pretty substantial economic boost."

The company has submitted an application to the state Public Utilities Commission for a transmission line project to examine how well the project would do in the area.

Depending on the final route for the proposed project, the transmission line will be between 9.5 and 11.5 miles long, and will extend from the wind park to the existing Otter Tail Power Co. transmission line southeast of Glyndon.

Clay County Planning Director Tim Magnusson said Beckner's proposal came before the Planning Commission earlier this year for conditional use permits for temporary towers to determine the feasibility of a large wind energy project in the area.

Beckner said he has received a lot of positive remarks about the wind park, especially from the 65 landowners who signed on to lease land to the project.

"Typically, you don't really get a whole lot of kickback to renewable energy requests," Beckner said. "People are usually pretty interested in it."

Separately, Project Resource Corp., a Minneapolis-based company, came before the Clay County commission in July.

The group received initial support from the commission to construct 20 to 30 wind turbines in Clay, Becker and Otter Tail counties beginning next year.

For Project Resource Corp., the goal is to build a 50- to 60-megawatt wind power project, with most of the turbines in eastern Clay County.

That project could cost $85 million to $90 million, including road, electrical and foundation work.

Locally, more than 200 Moorhead residents have stopped subscribing to the city-owned utility's wind energy program since its inception in 1999.

There are 650 customers who continue to pay a monthly $5 surcharge to support the green effort, despite costly repairs and unscheduled stops in service.

At its peak in 2001, about 900 people subscribed to Moorhead Public Service's "Capture the Wind" program.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kim Winnegge at (701) 241-5524