Wind Power Coming to a City Near You?

Anoka and 10 other cities across the state are in the early stages of planning the creation of wind turbines as part of a project by the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). MMPA is an electricity cooperative made up of metro and outstate cities working to bring wind power into homes. By 2012, 10 percent of MMPA's energy must come from renewable sources, and by 2025, 25 percent.

The project's leaders are beginning to approach the member cities, some of which are part of the Twin Cities metro area, to determine appropriate sites. Anoka MN, Arlington, Brownton, Buffalo MN, Chaska MN, East Grand Forks, Le Sueur, North St. Paul, Olivia, Shakopee MN and Winthrop could begin discussing the project in greater detail by the end of summer. The project is unique because instead of having 40 towers in a farm field, each member city will have a turbine of its own in town.

Avant Energy, the company that handles the technical components for MMPA projects, is looking for turbines that are around 150 feet tall and have between a 100- to 300-kilowatt capacity. They will likely be comparable to the 160-foot-tall wind turbine at the Great River Energy headquarters in Maple Grove.

The turbines most likely won’t be as big as the ones you would see on wind farms. They will be more appropriately sized to the community. The turbines aren't meant to provide a large amount of each city's electric load either, though amounts will vary.

While MMPA already purchases wind power from wind farms, transmitting the electricity over existing power lines that are already at capacity has been an issue. Officials will look for sites for the turbines that are close to the existing electrical distribution system in each city, so the power generated won't have to travel far to reach consumers.

Some of the cities are considering sites near schools or other education facilities, in order to provide a learning experience for students.

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