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Willmar's towers meeting financial goals

WILLMAR -- Willmar began burning coal in 1895 to produce electricity.

More than a century later, one certainty exists: The price of coal will continue to climb.

At some point in the not too distant future the cost of producing electricity from coal is projected to rise above the cost for producing it from wind, according to Jon Folkedahl, engineering consultant for the Willmar Municipal Utilities wind project.

Willmar's wind towers are living up to expectations, Folkedahl told attendees at the Utility-Scale wind energy forum held Nov. 23 in Olivia. The two wind towers were dedicated in 2009. They will produce electricity for decades to come with a "free'' source of energy, as compared to ever rising costs for coal.

Folkedahl said earlier calculations projected that the wind towers would produce electricity at an average, net present cost of 5.6 cents per kilowatt hour over a 20-year period.

Now that hard data is available, the numbers don't appear quite as rosy, but they are still favorable, according to Folkedahl. He estimates the average, net present cost will be closer to 6 cents per kilowatt hour.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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