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Cedar Ridge Wind Energy Center

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Facility

Turbine type: Vestas V82
No. of turbines: 41
Total project size: 67.65 MW
Location: Townships of Eden and Empire, in eastern Fond du Lac County  
Owner: Alliant Energy - Wisconsin Power & Light (WPL)
Original developer: Midwest Wind Energy
Project home page:https://www.alliantenergy.com/AboutAlliantEnergy/CompanyInformation/AlternativeEnergySources/029927

Contact

Brian Dierksheide
Alliant Energy - WP&L
920.477.5017
briandierksheide@alliantenergy.com

Area Description

The Townships of Eden and Empire are located to the east and south of the City of Fond du Lac, seat of Fond du Lac County. State Highway 23, the county’s principal east-west corridor, cuts through the northern edge of Empire. The Town of Eden extends south from Empire and east of the Town of Byron. The principal thoroughfare through the Eden is U.S. Highway 45, which also forms the southern and western boundary of the Cedar Ridge project. According to 2000 Census figures, nearly 4,300 people reside within the boundary lines of the two townships; the largest population center within them is the Village of Eden, with 687 residents.  The predominant land use in this area is agriculture, and the project is located on land zoned Exclusive Agriculture. The two towns are within 10 miles of the City of Fond du Lac.  A few new residences have sprung up in recent years, but they are mostly clustered along Highway 23 and Highway 45 north and west of the project zone.

The project area is located on the Niagara Escarpment, the same steep-sloped bedrock ridge on which the Blue Sky Green Field and Forward wind energy installations also rise. Glacial formations of low and rounded hills (drumlins) cover the site, interspersed with kettle wetlands. Within the project zone is a cluster of 25 drumlins ranging in elevation from 1,150 feet to 1,250 feet. These hills rise from terrain ranging in elevation from 1,050 feet to 1,100 feet. The closest major body of water is Lake Winnebago, located about five miles northwest of the site.

Project Description

Placed in service in December 2008, the Cedar Ridge Wind Energy Center consists of 41 Vestas V82 turbines, each rated at 1.65 megawatts (MW). At 67.65 megawatts, Cedar Ridge is, as of January 1, 2011, the state’s third-largest windpower project. Twenty-three of the turbines are situated in the Town of Eden, while 18 are within the Town of Empire. The project is bounded by County Highway UU on the west, U.S. Highway 45 and County Highway B on the south, County Highway W on the east, and County Highway T on the north. Cedar Ridge is owned and operated by Wisconsin Power & Light (WPL). Both WPL and its parent company, Alliant Energy, are headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. WPL’s service territory includes the City of Fond du Lac and parts of the project site.

The electricity from Cedar Ridge’s turbines flows through a network of underground cables to a new substation, where it is stepped up to transmission-strength voltage and fed into a nearby 138-kilovolt line owned by the American Transmission Company. The substation is situated in the north side of the project area, in the Town of Empire, between the Ohmstead and Mullet River substations. On the south side of the development stands Cedar Ridge’s operations center, located on U.S. Highway 45 one-half mile east of Eden. Cedar Ridge is located approximately seven miles northeast of We Energies’ two Vestas V47 wind turbines along U.S. Highway 41, eight miles northeast of Invenergy’s 129 MW Forward Wind Energy Center and eight miles south of the 145 MW Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center, also owned and operated by We Energies.

Project Development History

Beginning in 1998, the State of Wisconsin began measuring wind speeds at various locations throughout the state under its Wind Resource Assessment Program. One of the monitored locations, Tower 408, was located in the Town of Eden, within the footprint of the Cedar Ridge Wind Energy Center. Over a three-year period, Tower 408 collected meteorological data from 10, 25, 40 and 60 meters above ground level.

In addition to the wind monitoring information collected at Tower 408, wind developers could obtain access to meteorological data collected at the Fond du Lac County airport.  Both data sources are in the public domain.

In June 1999, We Energies’ two Vestas V47 wind turbines were placed in service in the neighboring town of Byron several miles to the west. Until the Class of 2008 projects were commissioned, Byron’s two turbines were the most productive in the state, achieving capacity factors in excess of 25%.

The meteorological data available to the public and the productivity of the Byron turbines provided ample evidence of a robust wind resource in eastern Fond du Lac County.  

Another point in Fond du Lac County’s favor was the existence of a well-developed utility transmission system linking several utility service territories. Blessed with multiple outlets for transporting electricity, Fond du Lac County is an attractive location for a generation source serving the triangular region defined by Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. Indeed, Fond du Lac County sits at the very crossroads of eastern Wisconsin’s grid.

A lull in wind development lasting several years prevailed after the Class of 1999 projects (Byron, Lincoln and Rosiere) were placed in service. The lull was broken by a We Energies’ Request for Proposals, issued in December 2002, seeking to acquire 200 MW of new wind energy capacity. That RFP attracted more than a half-dozen companies to prospect for development sites, mostly in eastern Wisconsin. One of the companies that ventured into Badger State was Chicago-based Midwest Wind Energy (MWE).

MWE’s first effort, the Butler Ridge prospect in southeast Dodge County, was one of the two wind proposals selected by We Energies to supply it with 200 MW of wind. In March 2004, while MWE was pursuing a permit to build its Butler Ridge project, Wisconsin Power & Light (WPL) issued an RFP seeking a new supply of wind energy. In response to that RFP, MWE submitted a bid that involved developing more than 50 MW on the Cedar Ridge site. At the time MWE submitted its proposal, very little development activity had occurred. That solicitation prompted MWE to initiate talks with local landowners about participating in a wind energy facility.

WPL eventually selected another Chicago developer, Invenergy, LLC, to supply wind- generated electricity from its Forward project through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Though WPL elected not to pursue a PPA with Midwest Wind, the utility was impressed with the energy production estimates that the developer provided. For the moment at least, WPL was content to monitor MWE’s progress in developing Cedar Ridge.

In September 2004, MWE circulated a memorandum to participating landowners that it would hold a public information meeting to introduce the Cedar Ridge project to community members outside the project area. In the memorandum, Midwest Wind stated that “the established long-term wind data shows the area to be a very good wind resource. In addition, the predominantly agricultural land use seen in the area along with the presence of nearby electric transmission lines make the Cedar Ridge project very attractive to prospective purchasers.” MWE also disclosed its intention to pursue a permit from the two townships to build the project. The public information meeting took place on November 9, 2004, at the Eden Elementary School.

In 2005 the developers appeared several times before the Eden and Empire Town Boards to answer questions regarding the Cedar Ridge Project. The developer installed a met tower in April near the site of Tower 408 and began monitoring wind speeds in the project area.

As was done at Butler Ridge, Midwest Wind sought to negotiate a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with the host townships. The advantage of this approach was that it specified the conditions of erecting turbines within their jurisdiction without pinning the developer down to exact locations. Under the proposed JDA with both townships, MWE agreed to a minimum setback distance of three times total turbine height (1,191 feet) and a maximum allowable sound output of 50 decibels (dBa) from nonparticipating residences. The terms were acceptable to the community and Town Board members. Both townships held public hearings in January 2006 on the proposed JDA, whereupon the Town Boards voted to approve the JDA. 

Under the framework of the JDA, assessments of the project’s impacts on wildlife, wetlands, telecommunications, and FAA radar were undertaken, which necessitated refinements to the turbine layout plan. Three of the 41 original turbine sites had to be relocated to obtain the necessary No Hazard permits from the Federal Aviation Administration. The developer also hired a consultant to evaluate the acoustical impacts of the turbines in order to meet the 50 dBa standard. By June 2006, enough information had been gathered and enough leases had been signed for MWE to settle on a final turbine configuration.

During 2005 and the first half of 2006, MWE periodically met with local residents to secure their participation and support for the project. In addition to negotiating lease agreements with 31 host landowners, MWE also offered easement agreements, informally called “Good Neighbor” payments, to non-participating residences within one-third mile of a turbine. By July 2006, twenty-two neighboring residents had signed easement agreements with MWE.

A month before the JDAs were approved, MWE and WPL entered into an option agreement granting WPL the rights to develop the Cedar Ridge Wind Farm, provided that the transaction was consummated by July 2006. As part of its due diligence, WPL investigated the level of community support, the developer’s progress in obtaining other permits, and the strength of the wind resource blowing over the project site. Apparently satisfied with the results of its investigation, WPL purchased in July 2006 the development rights to Cedar Ridge from Midwest Wind. With that acquisition, WPL assumed the responsibility to acquire all necessary permits for the project, the most important of which being a Certificate of Authority (CA) from the Public Service Commission. This permit is required of all regulated utilities in Wisconsin seeking to build a generation project under 100 MW.

In WPL’s original CA application, which filed on September 2006, the utility proposed to construct 41 turbines for a total capacity of 86 MW.  Initially, the construction cost estimates for Cedar Ridge came in at about $137 million. However, a supply availability question arose regarding the initial model, forcing WPL to choose from a number of alternative models. WPL considered two turbines models which were identified in a revised application submitted in March 2007. Of the two turbine models under consideration, one was the Vestas V82. The costs of the turbine models under consideration ranged from $159 million to $179 million. Even with the revised applicastion, it was WPL’s intention to secure approval of Cedar Ridge in 2007 and complete construction by the end of 2008.

The only groups intervening in the Cedar Ridge project were Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and RENEW Wisconsin. CUB’s intervention was prompted by a parallel WPL request to allow the use of fixed financial parameters for the project, which CUB opposed. RENEW Wisconsin testified in favor of Cedar Ridge. The PSC approved the Cedar Ridge project at its open meeting on April 24, 2007. The vote was 3-0.

During the proceeding, an issue arose regarding the adequacy of the applicant’s preconstruction surveys of area wildlife. The natural resource agencies reviewing the application wanted more data from the field to complete its baseline analysis. WPL was amenable to conducting additional field surveys, but not at the expense of delaying project construction. In its May 9th order approving Cedar Ridge, the PSC allowed construction activity on the substation to begin immediately, concurrent with the required preconstruction avian and bat surveys. The order also required WPL to submit a plan for extending the avian and bat surveys and to document that the results of the surveys were considered in the micrositing of individual turbines.

In July 2007, WPL announced that it had selected Vestas as the supplier of wind turbines for Cedar Ridge. For Vestas, it was the second major order to a Wisconsin electric utility that year. Turbine construction began in October 2007. Construction proceeded through much of 2008. Cedar Ridge officially became a commercial wind energy facility on December 15, 2008.

Post-Construction History

The PSC’s decision included a requirement to study the project’s impact on bird and bat populations for a minimum of two years. WPL must consult with natural resource agencies and PSC staff on the design and methodology of the impact study. WPL is required to file the data on a quarterly basis. One year’s worth of data has been collected and analyzed, and is available on the PSC’s web site. WPL selected BHE Environmental Inc., of Cincinnati, to conduct the two years of bat and bird mortality studies at Cedar Ridge.The interim report encompassing one year’s worth of data is available on the PSC’s web site (PSC Ref#127744).

The PSC also ordered WPL to perform a post-construction acoustical study of the project. That analysis was filed with the PSC in August 2009 (PSC Ref#117845).

Siting/Permitting

Joint Development Agreements with local government units: Issued January 2006
PSC Permit: Certificate of Authority (6680-CE-171) - issued May 2007
Project footprint:12.2 sq. miles (approx. 7,800 acres)
No. of landowners: 31
Maximum permissible sound threshold to neighboring residences: 50 dBA
Minimum setback distance from neighboring residences: 3 x total height
Wind Facilities Neighbors Agreement: $500 per year if one turbine is within 1/3rd  mile of a neighboring property owner’s residence, $750 per year if two or more turbines are within 1/3rd mile of a neighboring property owner’s residence.

Dimensional Data

Tip height: 397 ft.
Hub height: 262 ft.
Blade length: 131 ft.
Blade weight: 15,000 lbs. (7.5 tons)
Nacelle weight: 52 tons
Tower weight:  140 tons
Base diameter: 13.8 ft.
Miles of access roads: 10 
Miles of collector cabling: 30
Volume of concrete in each foundation: 320 cu. yards
Weight of steel in each foundation: 35 tons

Performance Data

Rated power output: 1.65 MW
Rated wind speed: 30 mph
Rotor speed: 14.4 rpm
Tip speed: 138 mph
Cut-in wind speed: 8 mph
Cut-out wind speed: 45 mph

Economics

Anticipated annual production: 170 million kilowatt-hours
Annual payments to host county: $200,900
Annual payments to host towns: Eden: $62,260, Empire: $49,500
Total annual payments to local governmental units: approx. $270,400
No. of permanent employees: 8
Peak construction employees: 150
Total installed cost: $179 million

Avoided Air Emissions (over 20 years)

Carbon dioxide (CO2): 4.5 million tons
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) : 3,500 tons
Sulfur: 6,000 tons
Mercury: 50 lbs.

Key Suppliers and Subcontractors

Avian and bat studies: Curry and Kerlinger, BHE Environmental
Cabling: Hooper Corp.
Electrical interconnection: Hooper Corp., Alliant Energy
Environmental consulting: RMT WindConnect, Natural Resources Consulting, Inc.
Foundation: Sanderfoot Wind and Excavating
General contractor: Alliant Energy
Permitting: RMT WindConnect
Tower erection: Boldt Construction
Transformer: Waukesha Electric Systems
Transportation & logistics: Lone Star Trucking
Wind assessment: RMT Inc., WindLogics

Chronology of Events

March
2004
WPL issues a Request for Proposals to acquire wind energy and associated renewable energy credits through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement. Midwest Wind Energy (MWE) submits a bid offer in response to the RFP, but WPL does not select it.
July
2004
MWE begins securing cooperation agreements with landowners in Eden and Empire Townships to erect approximately 40 wind turbines.
November
2004
MWE holds a public information meeting in the village of Eden to discuss its plans for developing a 54–80 MW wind project called Cedar Ridge.
April
2005
MWE begins collecting meteorological data within the project area and within one mile of a previously monitored location.
December
2005
MWE and WPL enter into an Option Agreement that grants WPL the right to acquire the Cedar Ridge Wind Farm.
January
2006
Public hearings are held in both townships on a proposed Joint Development Agreement between MWE and the two townships. The Town Boards of both townships approve their Joint Development Agreements.
May
2006

WPL receives a due diligence assessment of the wind resource in the project zone. The report also estimates generation output from a number of commercially available wind turbine models.

July
2006
WPL acquires from MWE an option to build the Cedar Ridge Wind Farm as a turnkey development.
September
2006

WPL files an application with the Public Service Commission for a Certificate of Authority to construct an 86 MW project in the Towns of Eden and Empire in Fond du Lac County.

November
2006
The American Transmission Company submits a proposal to the Midwest Independent System Operator to build a substation and related facilities for interconnecting the Cedar Ridge project to the transmission system.
March
2007
WPL submits a revised application to build a wind generating facility in the Towns of Eden and Empire in Fond du Lac County. The  application presents a choice of two turbine models for the project. Total capacity would range from 68 MW to 98 MW.
May
2007
PSC approves WPL’s application to construct a wind generating facility in the Towns of Eden and Empire in Fond du Lac County ranging from 68 MW to 98 MW.  In its approval, the PSCW determined that the project would have no significant environmental impact.  
July
2007
WPL enters into contract with Vestas, which will supply 41 V82 turbines, each rated at 1.65 MW. The project’s rated capacity will total nearly 68 MW.
August
2007
PSC issues a Certificate of Authority authorizing the construction of the Cedar Ridge Wind Farm.
October
2007
Construction begins.
December
2008 
WPL places Cedar Ridge in commercial service.
April
2009 
WPL submits results of post-construction sound measurements taken at the facility.
March
2010
WPL submits 2009 results of its post-construction bird and bat mortality study.

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