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Chippewa County approves road agreement for wind farm

Tribune file photo / These turbines in Meeker County began producing power in 2011 as part of the Danielson Wind Farm Project. The Palmer's Creek Wind Farm proposed in Chippewa County will erect 18 turbines dispersed over a 6,150 acre area.

MONTEVIDEO — The Chippewa County board of commissioners approved an agreement on Tuesday that opens the way for the development of the county's largest wind farm.

The agreement with Palmer's Creek Wind Farm outlines the company's responsibilities for using county and township roads. Some intersections on the delivery route will need to be widened to accommodate the movement of blades and tower components. Roads in the project area will be carrying heavier loads and more traffic as the project is built.

Todd Hay, head of civil engineering for Fagen Inc. of Granite Falls, which is building the project, said the development agreement is a mirror of an agreement used for a similar project and designed to protect the county's roads.

Palmer's Creek Wind plans to erect 18 turbines over a 6,150-acre area north of Granite Falls along the Minnesota River Valley. The mix of 2.3-megawatt and 2.5-megawatt turbines will produce 44.6 megawatts of electricity, according to the project's permit application. Towers will range in height from 262.4 feet to 295.2 feet, according to information from the company.

Hay told the commissioners that permitting for the project is moving along, but not at the pace the company hoped. He said the company may need to add additional staffing during the construction phase to begin producing power by late 2018 to meet the terms of a power purchase agreement.

The permit for the project will include restrictions on when the turbine blades can spin during lower wind periods in the warm season. The restrictions are designed to protect bats and migrating birds, Hay explained.

Tom Cherveny

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

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