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Milan man proposes wind turbines to power Willmar wastewater plant

WILLMAR — A Milan man is proposing to erect wind turbines on Willmar city-owned property to generate electricity to run Willmar’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.

However, the proposal could have a negative financial impact on Willmar Municipal Utilities, which sells electricity to the city to operate the treatment plant.

 Arvind Auluck-Wilson of Energy Technology Innovations is proposing to erect up to 200 vertical-axis wind turbines, each generating 3 kilowatts, in a tight array on about 5 acres of land adjacent to the treatment plant. He said the turbines, each less than 50 feet in height, conform to zoning requirements of the nearby city airport.

Auluck-Wilson proposes all electricity generated by the turbines be used in the treatment plant, which he said would lead to the plant drawing that much less power from the grid.

He said electric bills have historically ranged from $30,000 to $40,000 per month and will likely increase due to extreme weather conditions and regulatory changes. Auluck-Wilson proposes he and the city split the savings.

Auluck-Wilson also said the city will not be responsible for the cost of the turbines, their installation, maintenance and eventual tear-down at the end of their lifetime; and that his company will be financially responsible for the entire system.

The proposal was brought to the City Council’s Community Development Committee recently and a report on the proposal was given by committee Chair Rick Fagelie at the June 16 council meeting.

Fagerlie said the project in theory would save the city money. But he said there are certain cost impacts on the utilities. He said the committee was concerned that the utilities have an opportunity to review the proposal before the council takes any action.

Auluck-Wilson had met earlier with Bruce Peterson, city planning and development director. Peterson said the proposal would represent a substantial loss of revenue for the utilities and said it has not been properly vetted by the utilities.

“He wanted to move quickly with this. I told him that I think we need to slow the process a little bit because I anticipate the council would have some questions about the revenue issue for the utilities,’’ Peterson said.

“The fact that our payment in lieu of taxes from the utilities is tied to revenue, so it affects the city as a whole,’’ he said.

Fagerlie reported to the council that the committee received the proposal as information and asked city staff to refer it to the utilities.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150