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Montfort Wind Farm

FacilityMontfort Wind Farm

Turbine type: Enron Wind 1.5 MW Series wind turbine
No. of turbines: 20
Total project size: 30 MW
Location: Township of Eden, in west Iowa County. Located on the Military Ridge, one of the highest areas in SW Wisconsin
Owner: We Energies
Home page: Montfort Wind Farm

Contact

Carol Anderson
NextEra Energy Resources
608.623.2509
clanderson@charter.net

Area Description

The Township of Eden, located in western Iowa County, is about an hour’s drive from downtown Madison. With some of the best soil in the county, agriculture remains the dominant economic activity in the township. Farm sizes in Iowa County are substantially larger than in eastern Wisconsin, and population density is very low. Whatever development pressure there is in Iowa County is confined mainly to the eastern flank of the county and along the fringes of its two largest cities, Dodgeville and Mineral Point. Along the Grant County border, where Eden is located, there is no development pressure to speak of.

The Military Ridge, which extends from its eastern terminus in Dane County west into Grant County, runs straight across Eden Township just south of U.S. Highway 18.  Elevations along the Military Ridge are much lower relative to the surrounding area than along the Niagara Escarpment in eastern Wisconsin. Wind monitoring data collected to date confirm a less energetic wind resource in this area compared with locations on top of the Niagara Escarpment. However, the land along the project site is relatively flat, open, and treeless, and it’s easier to string together larger clusters of wind turbines than in the more heavily populated east.

Project Description

Placed in service in July 2001, the Montfort Wind Energy Center consists of 20 GE 1.5 MW turbines located in the Town of Eden in Iowa County.  The project is divided into two arrays running east to west. The larger of the two arrays, numbering 17 turbines, parallels U.S. Highway 18 between Cobb to the east and Montfort to the west. The smaller string runs along County Highway B about one mile south of the larger array. In the parking lot of the Tower Junction restaurant, on the north side of U.S. Highway 18, stands an informational kiosk directly in front of the westernmost turbine.

Wisconsin Electric Power Company buys the output from the larger array, while Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin subsidiary (WPL) takes power from the trio of turbines to the south.  The energy from both sets of turbines flows west through underground cables into the Montfort substation owned by American Transmission Company. The Montfort project was originally developed by Enron Wind Energy Company in 2000 and sold to FPL Energy (now NextEra Energy) in early 2001. From 2001 until 2008, the Montfort facility was the newest and largest commercial windpower installation in Wisconsin.

Project Development History

The Montfort project emerged as FPL Energy’s fallback plan after its preferred initiative to site a project in the Town of Addison in Washington County ran into permitting difficulties. In July 1998, as a response to the newly mandate renewable capacity set-aside, wind prospectors reviewed several sites in Wisconsin for their windpower development potential. They selected the Addison site as being the most favorable location for development, and forwarded that recommendation to FPL Energy. By 2000, local opposition to the proposed project, legal actions and zoning difficulties resulted in the utilities canceling their power purchase agreements and representatives from Enron Wind Energy Company began reviewing sites in western Iowa County for hosting wind generators.

A sub-station existed that could be added onto and the community was receptive. Town Board approved, County Planning and Zoning Committee approved and then the Iowa County Board approved.  The developer worked with landowners and the community regarding the benefits and what it might bring to the community. There was one person who spoke against the project at the county planning and zoning meeting.

Post-Construction History

In August 2001, FPL Energy held anofficial ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the wind project and presented a $50,000 check to the Town of Eden representing payments in lieu of taxes. In the parking lot of the Tower Junction restaurant, on the north side of U.S. Highway 18, an informational kiosk was placed for public viewing.Carol Anderson was designated as the official hostess of the project, conducting many tours for schools and other citizen and business groups.

Siting/Permitting

Permit issuance date: October 2000.
Environmental Impact Statement: No
Property under lease: Approximately 15 acres
No. of landowners: 6
Maximum permissible sound threshold to neighboring residences: Unknown
Minimum setback distance from residences: At least 1,200 feet.
Minimum setback distance from roads: 300 feet.

Dimensional Data

Tip height: Approx. 330 ft.
Hub height: Approx. 213 ft.
Blade length: Approx. 112 ft.
Turbine weight: Approx. 92 tons
Weight of nacelle, hub, and blades: 92 tons
Base diameter: 14 ft.
Tower diameter: 10 ft.
Miles of collector cabling: 7 miles
Miles of access roads: 3 miles

Performance Data

Rated power output: 1.5 MW
Rated wind speed: Unknown
Rotor speed: Variable, 11-20 rpm  (one revolution every 2-3 seconds)
Cut-in wind speed: 6-7 mph
Cut-out wind speed: 56 mph
Estimated annual capacity factor: Approximately 20 percent
Anticipated life: 25 years

Economics

Anticipated annual production: 52,000 megawatt-hours
Annual payments to host townships and county: None. This project was installed prior to Wisconsin Act 31, adopted on June 15, 2003, which amended the existing formula for redistributing state gross tax receipts to townships and counties for hosting which allowed qualified renewable power projects within their jurisdictions. Before that law was enacted, the allocation formula did not apply to independently owned generation projects. In lieu of a formal local aid mechanism, FPL Energy offered to provide a lump sum payment of $50,000 to the Town of Eden, which the Town Board accepted at the formal dedication of the Montfort Wind Energy Center in August 2001.
No. of permanent operations and maintenance employees: 3
Peak construction employees: 75
Capital cost: Unknown

Power Purchasers

Seventeen of Montfort’s 20 turbines supply energy to We Energies.
Three of Montfort’s 20 turbines supply energy to WPL.

Key Suppliers and Subcontractors

General contractor: MGE
Tower foundation design: Patrick and Henderson
Tower erection: Vestas
Cabling: Van Ert Electric Co.
Site assessment: MGE/Ron Nierenberg
Monitoring: MGE (Second Wind System)
Transportation & logistics: Vestas
Electrical interconnection: WI Public Service Distribution Interconnection

Chronology of Events

June
2000

Representatives from Enron Wind Energy Company begin reviewing sites in western Iowa County for hosting wind generators. Outreach to landowners begins.

July
2000

Enron meets with county officials to explain the project.

August
2000

Enron submits application to Iowa County for permission to situate 20 1.5 MW turbines in the Township of Eden. Because two of the town’s three Board members are project participant, the application is taken up by the Iowa County Zoning Committee, which holds a hearing on the matter. The Committee, in consultation with the County Zoning Administrator, determines that turbines are not considered a utility by ordinance, and therefore not allowable on lands zoned as A-1 Agricultural. The committee determined that the project development area land must be reclassified as M-1 Industrial.

September
2000

The Zoning Committee approves Enron’s request to rezone 15.65 acres of prime agricultural land as M-1 industrial. The rezoned land consists of the turbine bases and an access road. The Committee also approves a conditional use permit allowing installation of 20 turbines to go forward in the rezoned land. At the hearing one Iowa County resident expressed concerns over potential impacts, but did not outright oppose the project.

October
2000

The Iowa County Board approves Enron’s wind project.

December
2000

Enron sells its ownership interest in the Iowa County project to FPL Energy.

January
2001

Wisconsin Electric agrees to purchase the output from 17 turbines (25.5 MW). Coupled with a landfill gas project, the power purchase agreement with FPL Energy enables WE to fulfill its Act 204 obligation to build or acquire a total of 27 MW of renewable generating capacity. Following the signing of a transmission agreement with the American Transmission Company, construction of the Iowa County wind project begins.

April
2001

Alliant Energy agrees to purchase output from three of the project’s 20 turbines (4.5 MW). The power purchase agreement clears the path for completing the project as approved.

July
2001

FPL Energy completes construction and commissioning of all 20 turbines.

August
2001

FPL Energy holds official ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the wind project and presents a $50,000 check to the Town of Eden representing payments in lieu of taxes.

December 2012
We Energies acquires Montfort project from NextEra Energy.

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