Lake Benton is proud to be known as the "Original Windpower Capital" of the American midwest. Presently the home to over 685 wind turbines -- with more currently under construction -- Lake Benton is emerging as an important source of alternative, wind-generated electricity.
A 1990 study of Minnesota's wind energy potential by the Department of Public service found that the area around Lake Benton -- the "Buffalo Ridge" -- has enough wind to produce electricity well in excess of a full year's net electrical consumption in Minnesota. The Buffalo Ridge provides more high-grade wind resources than the entire state of California.
Come see these wonders of technology. Stand near them and listen to the gentle "swoosh swoosh swoosh" of their massive blades as they truly "harvest the wind."
Commissioned in 1994, the "Buffalo Ridge Windplant" produces 25 megawatts of pollution-free electricity for sale to Xcel Energy, formerly Northern States Power Company (Xcel) under a long-term contract. The 73 turbines now in operation is Phase I of Xcel's commitment to install 425 megawatts of wind-generated power by the end of 2002. Constructed by Kenetech Corporation of California, these KVS-33 style wind towers are the first utility-scale wind energy generating power facility to be built in the United States outside of California.
But Phase I was only the beginning! Zond Development Corp., also of California, was selected to carry out construction of another 143 wind turbines, with a planned completion in 1998. Even taller and larger than the existing towers, these Z-46 style Phase II wind generators will expand the Lake Benton area as one of the world's leading wind power site. A third NSP-sponsored phase is in the planning stage. When combined, the three phases will provide 225 megawatts of power.
The current wind towers stand 257 feet tall at their highest tip. Each turbine's fiberglass blades create a rotor diameter of 158 feet, operating in wind speeds of 9 to 65 miles per hour.
Wind power is a pollution-free, zero-emission, renewable technology. Based on information available from NSP, the projected energy from the Lake Benton wind farms can:
- Reduce system-wide carbon dioxide emission levels by 49,000 tons per year.
- Reduce system-wide sulfur dioxide emission levels by 125 tons per year.
- Reduce system-wide nitrogen oxide emission levels by 146 tons per year.
- The wind turbines installed around Lake Benton are equipped with several features which allow them to operate in a cold-weather climate.
- Approx. 2,000 acres of privately-owned land was secured by Xcel Energy formerly NSP under easement for construction of the Phase I wind towers. Corn and soy bean crops continue to be grown and harvested in the fields surrounding the turbines.
. . . about windpower generation
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