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After some delays, Milan bank's wind tower arrives

MILAN -- Minnesota's first wind turbine intended to both produce electricity and promote a community bank is a step closer to reality.

After lengthy delays, the tower that will hold a 20-kilowatt, made-in-Minnesota Jacob's wind turbine arrived last week at the site where it will be erected. It was assembled at the site, but it will not be erected until a future date, according to Erik Thompson, president of Prairie Sun Bank, Milan.

The tower is located one mile north of Milan, on the east side of Minnesota Highway 7 near the railroad bypass.

When it is erected, the tower will carry the bank's logo: "Powering a Renewal of our Communities.''

Its use as an advertisement medium makes it possible for the bank to own and erect the wind tower. Thompson originally wanted to erect a wind turbine to encourage wind power development for the rural community. However, he discovered that there are laws forbidding financial institutions from owning other types of businesses, an electric utility in particular.

Thompson was able to win permission for the tower from the Minnesota Department of Commerce on the understanding that the tower will serve mainly as an advertisement. The bank intends to use revenues generated from the sale of electricity to retire the costs for the project, and to donate the turbine to a public entity or nonprofit organization.

The turbine will be connected to the Otter Tail Power distribution system and the electricity purchased by the utility. Thompson said the tower raising and turbine installation are contingent on completing interconnection arrangements with Otter Tail Power. He was not sure when that would be completed.