Construction to start next year on 100 towers for new wind farm

Published 8:30 am Thursday, July 25, 2013

More wind towers, like these near Grand Meadow, will be coming into the Austin area just north of Dexter.

More wind towers, like these near Grand Meadow, will be coming into the Austin area just north of Dexter.

Work to construct a Mower County wind farm delayed since 2010 is set to begin next year.

Officials with RES Americas confirmed construction on Pleasant Valley Wind Farm will start in mid-2014 and last through the end of 2015. Pleasant Valley should start producing power for Xcel Energy by the end of 2015.

Pleasant Valley will be a 200 megawatt wind farm, with 100 2.0 megawatt turbines, according to RES Americas officials.

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Last week, Xcel Energy announced plans to purchase Pleasant Valley along with planned wind farms near Windom, Minn., and Jamestown, N.D.

It marks the single largest increase in wind generation in the Upper Midwest. The additional 600 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve 180,000 homes, is a 33 percent increase over the Minneapolis-based utility’s existing wind capacity of 1,800 megawatts in the region.

Though RES Americas secured permitting for construction of Pleasant Valley in 2010, the project and many other pending wind farms in the U.S. stalled because of uncertainty about whether Congress would renew the federal wind production tax credit — a key subsidy for wind energy — before it expired Dec. 31, 2012.

On Jan. 1, Congress passed a one-year extension of the 2.2 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit that allows projects to collect the credit as long as they start construction in 2013, even if they can’t finish erecting the turbines until later.

RES officials could not confirm if Pleasant Valley will qualify with the production tax credit, since construction is set to start in 2014. However, the project may qualify under a “continuous efforts” clause.

RES officials pointed to an article published on April 24, 2013, by in which two lawyers stated construction will be considered started if 5 percent or more of the total project cost is paid or incurred before Jan. 1, 2014, and “continuous efforts” are made toward completing the project.

 —MCT Information Services contributed to this report.