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Rosiere Wind Farm

Facility

Turbine type: Vestas V-47
No. of turbines: 17
Total project size:11.2 MW
Location: Townships of Red River and Lincoln, in northwest Kewaunee County.  
Owner: Madison Gas & Electric Company
Home page: http://www.mge.com/environment/green/wind/rosiere.htm

Contact

Don Peterson
Madison Gas & Electric
608.252.7926
dpeterson@mge.com

Area Description

 The Townships of Lincoln and Red River occupy the northwest corner of Kewaunee County, and form a continuous boundary with Door County to the north. In this part of Wisconsin the Niagara Escarpment runs about five miles wide but at a lower elevation relative to the wind developments further south. Notwithstanding their proximity to Door County, Red River and Lincoln see very little tourist traffic, especially on the escarpment. Farms tend to be small in size, and there are a few rural residential districts dotting the landscape. Dairying is the principal agricultural activity. Total population of both towns, excluding villages within their boundaries, totaled nearly 2,500 in 2000, up from 2,300 in 1990. Along with this gradual increase in population, there has been an increase in the numbers of residences created from sectioned-off farms. As downtown Green Bay is only a 30 minute drive from this area, commuting to jobs in the Green Bay area is becoming increasingly common.

Project Description

Placed in service in June 1999, the Rosiere wind project consists of 17 Vestas V-47 turbines, each rated at 660 kilowatts. Nine of the turbines are located in the Town of Red River and eight are in the Town of Lincoln.  The turbines are situated on the Niagara Escarpment, which bisects Kewaunee County along a north-northeasterly axis. The Rosiere installation is owned and operated by Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), a Madison-based investor-owned electric utility.

The energy from the turbines feeds the local distribution lines owned by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS). Once that energy reaches the nearest substation, it is stepped up to transmission voltage and exported to MGE’s control area. At 11.2 megawatts (MW), Rosiere is the largest of the three utility-owned wind projects constructed in 1999.

Project Development History

In late 1997, MGE began surveying locations in eastern Wisconsin that could host an 11 MW wind farm. As envisioned by MGE, this wind project would supply energy that would be purchased by a subset of its customers through a voluntary premium program (now called Green Power Tomorrow).

In early 2008 MGE had narrowed its search to two locations. The utility’s preferred choice was the Town of Stockbridge (Calumet County), which appeared to be the windier of the two sites under consideration. The other site, near the hamlet of Rosiere in Kewaunee County, was MGE’s back-up site in case development efforts faltered in Stockbridge.

An important factor influencing this project’s economic appeal and timetable was the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), then worth 1.5 cents/kilowatt-hour. Adopted in 1992, the PTC took effect in 1994 and was scheduled to sunset in June 30, 1999. Mindful of the tax credit’s looming expiration, MGE decided to explore development at the two potential project sites in parallel. At both locations MGE recruited willing landowner hosts and held open houses and informational meetings with local residents and community leaders. MGE also filed two separate Construction Authority permit applications that summer.

Prospects for building in Stockbridge nosedived after the Calumet County Board of Supervisors adopted a moratorium in July 1998 on wind farm development. Fortunately, MGE had by that time secured enough landowner participants to move forward with development at the Rosiere site. After preliminary discussions with town officials, MGE sought conditional use permits from both townships.

The permitting process took longer than anticipated, largely because of jurisdictional wrangling between the local Town Boards and their respective Zoning Committees. It was eventually decided that the Zoning Committees would decide the fate of the Rosiere project. Further complicating matters in Lincoln was the presence of a second wind farm proposal (WPS’s Lincoln project). Several Lincoln residents were outspoken in their opposition to wind development, which raised the level of contentiousness in that township’s public hearings. In November 1998 the Town of Red River approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for MGE. The Town of Lincoln followed suit later that month, although the vote was close (3-2).

Taking advantage of unusually mild weather, MGE commenced project construction in December 1998 and work proceeded into the next year. The project became fully operational in the last week of June 1999. For more than a year, the Rosiere project held on to the honor being the largest windpower installation east of the Mississippi River.

In its initial plans, MGE had envisioned dedicating all of the project’s output to its renewable premium program. Those expectations changed when the Wisconsin Legislature adopted the so-called Electric Reliability Act in Spring 1998 (1997 Act 204). Included in that bill was a requirement on four eastern Wisconsin utilities to acquire 50 MW of renewable energy supply by 2000. MGE’s share of that total was 3 MW. To comply with Act 204’s renewable energy set-aside, MGE had to reduce the amount of capacity dedicated to its voluntary program by a like amount. By the time the turbines began generating electricity in spring 1999, the portion of the Rosiere wind farm dedicated to serving these customers was fully subscribed.

Post-Construction History

In July 1999 the Rosiere installation was formally dedicated in the Town of Red River. Nearly 200 people took part in the event. Also that July, both Lincoln and Red River townships adopted resolutions imposing 18-month moratoria on windpower installations to give their respective boards sufficient opportunity to evaluate and propose changes to their wind permitting procedures.

Shortly after Lincoln’s moratorium is passed, the Town Board created a five-member citizens committee, which came to be known as the Wind Turbine Moratorium Study Committee. This body was charged with evaluating the impact of the two projects on town residents and proposing any necessary improvements to Lincoln’s conditional use permit process as applied to wind turbines. When a dairy farmer adjacent to the WPS windpower installation expressed concerns about exposure to stray voltage, the Town Board extended the moratorium.

After meeting 39 times a period beginning in July, the committee sent its final report to the Lincoln Town Board on February 11, 2002 for review. The Town Board did not act on any of the recommendations contained in the committee’s report.

Unlike Lincoln, Red River’s Board never designated a citizens committee. In December 2000 Red River’s moratorium lapses without any official action taken.

The conditional use permits grants Lincoln and Red River the authority to review the permit conditions for the Rosiere project every five years and hold a public hearing if needed. In 2004 Lincoln’s Town Board scheduled hearings on the Rosiere installation. No one at the hearing had any comment on MGE’s turbines, and the Board extended MGE’s permit during that meeting.

Unlike its counterpart in Lincoln, Red River’s Town Board has not ever held a follow-up hearing to review its permit with MGE. 

June 2009 marked the 10-year anniversary and second five-year review period for MGE’s Rosiere project. The Lincoln Town Board declined to hold a public hearing, as no concerns from residents had been raised. 

MGE commissioned a video to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Rosiere installation. That video can be accessed at http://storybridge.tv/greenview_fieldofdreams.

Since coming online, the facility has produced over 215,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough power to supply 3,000 homes annually.

Siting/Permitting

Issuance date of local permits: November 1998
Docket:3270-CE-120
Property under lease: 30.5 acres
No. of landowners: 7
Maximum permissible sound threshold to neighboring residences: 50 dBA
Minimum setback distance from neighboring residences: 800 ft.

Dimensional Data

Tip height: 292 ft.
Hub height: 213 ft.
Blade length: 77 ft.
Turbine weight: 20 tons
Tower weight: 73.5 tons
Base diameter: 12 ft.
Miles of access roads:  3 miles
Miles of collector cabling: 6 miles of 3 phase line

Performance Data

Rated power output: 660 kW
Rated wind speed: 33 mph
Rotor speed: 28.5 rpm
Cut-in wind speed: 9 mph
Cut-out wind speed: 56 mph
Extreme gust wind speed: > 100 mph

Economics

Anticipated annual production: 23 million kilowatt-hours
Annual payments to host county: $19,000
Annual payments to host towns: Red River: $22,235, Lincoln: $19,765
No. of permanent employees: 3 Vestas employees (shared with WPS Lincoln Wind Farm).
Peak construction employees: 50
Total installed cost: $14.5 million

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

October
1997

MGE notifies PSC of intention to build 11.2 MW of windpower.

April
1998

MGE hosts two informational meetings concerning its windpower proposals, one in Calumet County and one in Kewaunee County. MGE discloses that the Calumet County location is the utility’s preferred site.

May
1998

MGE files two applications for Construction Authority to install 11.2 MW of wind generating capacity, consisting of 17 Vestas V-47 turbines. One application envisions placing turbines in the Town of Stockbridge in Calumet County.  The other envisions siting turbines in the Towns of Red River and Lincoln in Kewaunee County.

June
1998

Resolution is introduced before Calumet County Board of Supervisors in opposition to MGE’s wind development proposal.

July
1998

Calumet County Board of Supervisors adopts antiwind resolution. MGE shifts development focus to Kewaunee site.

August
1998

MGE signs agreements with area landowners to site 17 turbines in Kewaunee County, nine in the Township of Red River and eight in the Township of Lincoln. MGE initiates discussions with local government officials regarding procedures for obtaining permission to build a wind farm.

September
1998

Calumet County Board of Supervisors adopts moratorium on constructing wind towers higher than 100 feet on the Niagara Escarpment.

October
1998

Public Service Commission approves MGE’s plans to build a 11.2 MW wind farm at both sites.

November
1998

Townships of Red River and Lincoln issue conditional use permits allowing the construction of MG&E’s 17 turbines to go forward.

December
1998

Construction begins.

February
1999

Lincoln Township’s Board amends zoning ordinance to require Town Board affirmation of all applications for a conditional use permit.

March
1999

MGE begins marketing windpower premium program.

June
1999

All 17 of MG&E wind turbines are placed in service.

July
1999

MGE hosts ceremony dedicating its windpower project. Townships of Red River and Lincoln adopt 18-month moratorium on siting windpower. Lincoln Moratorium Study Committee is formed to discuss possible changes to the local zoning ordinance that would apply to future windpower proposals.

September
1999

MGE’s windpower installation becomes fully subscribed.

January
2001

Lincoln Township’s moratorium on windpower development is extended, allowing its Moratorium Study Committee additional time to recommend changes to the town’s zoning ordinance pertaining to future wind farm proposals. Red River’s moratorium lapses uneventfully. No follow-up work on windpower took place during the moratorium.

April
2001

Lincoln’s moratorium committee, in concert with the local UW Extension officer, mails 318 surveys to residents to evaluate attitudes towards the windpower installations. Over 275 residents returned their surveys.

February
2002

After meeting 39 times over a two-year period, the Lincoln Wind Moratorium Committee presents its final report to the Town Board. The Board did not formally accept the report, nor did it act on any of the committee’s recommendations.

June
2004

In accordance with a provision in MGE’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP)specifying Town Board renewal of the permit every five years, the Board convenes a public hearing. No one comes forward with a complaint. MGE’s CUP is extended for five years.

June
2009

Due to the lack of complaints over MGE’s management of the Rosiere installation, the Lincoln Board declines to hold a public hearing on the matter. Another five-year extension is granted. MGE releases video marking the Rosiere project’s 10th anniversary.

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