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MUC approves work at wind turbine site

WILLMAR -- Construction will begin Wednesday on roads and foundations at the site between Willmar Senior High School and County Road 90 for Willmar Municipal Utilities' two wind turbines.

The work will be done by Chad Monson Excavating of Willmar under a $1,599,920 contract approved this week by the Municipal Utilities Commission.

The Monson bid was the lowest of four bids submitted by contractors hoping to do the work, but one bid, which was the high bid, was rejected for failure to comply with all requirements, said Bruce Gomm, utilities general manager.

The work includes erection of the two 250-foot turbines. Although Monson has never been a general contractor on a wind turbine project, utility officials investigated and determined Monson was qualified based on subcontractors Monson will be using during the project, according to Gomm.

Monson hopes to have work on the foundations completed by Thanksgiving and will erect the turbines next spring or early summer.

The commission in August approved the purchase of two $3 million DeWind turbines from Windations LLC of New London. Each turbine is capable of generating 2 megawatts of electricity.

A law passed by the 2006 Legislature that requires utilities to deliver 25 percent of electricity through renewable resources by 2025 provided the extra incentive to bring wind power to Willmar.

Gomm said he was pleased to have the contract approved for the balance of the turbine project.

"That was the last big piece of getting our turbines constructed, so it was pretty important,'' he said.

In other business, the commission approved the low bid of $608,330 from Michels Power of Neenah, Wis., to replace 40 poles on a transmission line that will serve a new substation at Willmar's new wastewater treatment plant, located west of the city.

A higher bid of $711,019 was submitted by Donovan Construction of St. Paul.

The poles are being replaced after several poles were damaged in a windstorm this past summer and utility inspectors found more poles were in worse condition that previously thought, said Gomm.

The project will include construction of a spur line from County Road 116 to the substation.