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Willmar Utilities receives final OK for turbines

WILLMAR -- Folkedahl Consulting Inc. of Willmar says that final approval has been given for the Willmar Municipal Utilities wind energy project.

The Willmar Planning and Development Services Department issued a building permit last week for construction of two wind turbines located north of Willmar Senior High School. The turbines will be capable of generating up to four megawatts of electricity for the utility.

Construction was to begin immediately. The first phase, consisting of access roads and turbine foundations, will be completed this fall. The second and final phase -- installation -- will begin in May and is expected to be completed by July.

"Willmar Municipal Utilities is a leader in Minnesota in generating its own renewable energy,'' said Jon Folkedahl, president of Folkedahl Consulting Inc. of Willmar.

Folkedahl said Willmar Municipal Utilities General Manager Bruce Gomm, Staff Electrical Engineer Wes Hompe, the Utilities Commission and former general manager Mike Nitchals deserve credit for making the project happen.

"The final piece of the preparation is in place,'' Folkedahl said. "By next July, Willmar will be the first municipal utility in Minnesota to own and operate its own wind farm.''

Folkedahl Consulting, which specializes in renewable energy development, has been working with Willmar Utilities since 2006 to bring wind energy to the city.

Folkedahl has provided wind resource assessment and feasibility studies, and assisted with turbine acquisition, construction contracts and management.