Madison Gas and Electric announced a proposal to construct, own, and operate its largest wind farm to date, advancing the company’s commitment to increasing cleaner energy and to further reducing carbon dioxide emissions under its Energy 2030 framework.
The proposed 66-MW Saratoga wind farm would consist of 33 turbines, about 200 miles west of Madison, Wisconsin (near Saratoga in Howard County, Iowa).
Because of strong winds and proximity to transmission infrastructure, the roughly 10-square-mile site is well situated for delivering clean energy to MGE customers. If approved, construction could begin in early 2018 and deliver enough energy to power approximately 47,000 homes by the end of 2018.
Wind-turbine technology has improved with larger turbines producing energy more efficiently, making them a cost-effective, clean-energy option. The anticipated turbines for Saratoga extend nearly 500 feet tall, which is 100 feet higher than turbines at MGE’s Top of Iowa wind farm, built in 2008.
Larger blades result in a larger “swept area,” and therefore, capture more energy per turbine at moderate wind speeds.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our customers and continues the progress we’ve made in reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy,” Chairman, President and CEO Gary Wolter said. “With recent advances in technology, this project represents a long-term, cost-effective strategy for MGE to continue to transition to cleaner energy sources.”
Negotiations for the Saratoga site began in summer 2016. MGE secured the rights to the construction-ready site last year from the site’s initial developer, RPM Access LLC, which had designated the site for wind development. MGE estimates the total capital cost of the project, if approved by regulators, to be about $107 million.
The utility plans to take advantage of federal renewable electricity production tax credits. On February 21, 2017, MGE filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) a letter notifying the commission of MGE’s intent to seek approval to build Saratoga. MGE anticipates filing its formal application with the PSCW in March.