Dairyland Power officials celebrated the completion of a $167 million wind farm in southwest Wisconsin Friday that is expected to provide enough energy for more than 35,000 average households.

The La Crosse-based cooperative has a 20-year contract to purchase electricity generated by 49 turbines spread over rural Lafayette County.

The 98-megawatt Quilt Block project, constructed and operated by EDP Renewables, is the state’s fourth largest wind farm and should boost Wisconsin’s wind generation capacity by about 15 percent, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Dairyland CEO Barb Nick said the agreement fits with the cooperative’s resource diversification strategy and “is good, sound business practice.”

Wind farms require only a fraction of the staff required to operate a traditional power plant, and there are no fuel costs.

The cost of wind energy has declined dramatically as technological advances have enabled taller towers with longer blades that capture more wind, and federal tax credits have helped spur rapid growth in U.S. wind capacity, according to the EIA.

“The momentum seems to be building,” said Tyler Hueber, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a renewable energy advocacy group.

EDP Renewables, a Houston-based company that operates 41 wind farms and two solar gardens throughout North America, said the landowners hosting the turbines will receive about $23 million over the life of the project, while a state-mandated revenue sharing agreement will provide about $392,000 a year for local government in the county of 16,836 people.

As many as 250 people were involved in construction of the project, which will employ 10 full-time workers.

According to Quilt Block’s connection agreement with the Midwest grid operators, its success is dependent on two controversial high-voltage transmission lines proposed by Dairyland and other utilities: Badger Coulee, which is currently under construction between La Crosse and Madison; and Cardinal-Hickory Creek, a proposed line between Dubuque and Madison.

While opponents of those lines contend they discourage less costly energy efficiency and local renewable energy development, supporters say they are actually facilitating local projects like Quilt Block.

“That line is not only needed for wind farms in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, it’s also opening up market opportunities for Wisconsin projects,” said Chris Kunkle, regional policy manager for Wind on the Wires, a non-profit renewable energy advocacy organization.

“I’m very glad it’s here. It’s in our footprint,” Nick said. “I’m more happy about the economics.”

With $1.6 billion in generation assets, Dairyland serves more than 258,000 customers of member cooperatives and municipal utilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

In the past two years, the cooperative has added more than 200 megawatts of wind and solar generation capacity to its portfolio, which has traditionally been dominated by coal-fired power. Nick said the company intends to add another 100 to 150 megawatts of renewables in the near future “at the right time, right location and right price.”

Earlier this year Dairyland announced plans to build a $700 million natural gas generation plant in a partnership with Minnesota Power.

Nick said Dairyland intends to stick with its plans to reduce reliance on coal regardless of the Trump administration’s efforts to revive the flagging mining industry.

“We’re going to continue to pursue that regardless of what happens with legislation, regulation or global politics,” Nick said. “Because we think it’s just good economics, it’s sustainable, it’s what our members want.”

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Reporter

Rhymes with Lubbock. La Crosse Tribune reporter and data geek. Covers energy, transportation and the environment, among other things. Call him at 608-791-8217.

(17) comments

Buggs Raplin

kingman10 brought up pizzagate; I then referenced John Podesta's e-mails, where John wonders with he should play dominos (domination) on cheese (young boys) or pasta (young girls). Tony Podesta, John's brother, has a pedophile art collection, which can be seen via Bing.

Tim Russell

Thanks comrade.

Buggs Raplin

I see Boston set a record for cold temperatures yesterday, yet NOAA and NASA and the IPCC will tell us this was either the hottest or 2nd hottest year on record. And they can back up that claim by fudging or omitting data, or other manipulations. and stupid gullibles will swallow it like the last piece of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Stupid gullibles have become part of the new religion, and that's just what it is. Unwarranted faith in science corrupted by politics. It's a faith-based approach as there is NO evidence humans have the ability to change the climate. None. Zero. Zilch. Yet the media crusade continues on the pages of the Tribune with near weekly editorial columns and AP stories on global warming, while at the same time the climate in most of the US has NOT been cooperating. It's been wonderful. A cool spring, a cool summer, plenty of rainfall, and now a very cold start to winter. Remember that the next time the fake news media and Tribune columnists tell you the world is burning up from fossil fuels, and it all would all go away if you'll just agree to a carbon tax.

Buggs Raplin

Meanwhile, while waiting for renewables to provide the energy we need (not in the forseeable future-not for many, many, many years), Vicki and Oz rely on those horrid fossil fuels to keep them alive in the winter and provide their electricity. And Oz downplays the killing of bats and birds by wind turbines with his illogical 'cats kill birds' reasoning. Oh, you gullible liberals. so gullible, so stupid, so utterly stupid. It's a hoax, stupids, it's all a hoax to get your money in a carbon tax. there's no such thing as human-caused global warming. No evidence of it at all-Chip DeNure aka Buggs Raplin

Vicky

Buggs (and others) don't quite understand the term ‘renewable energy’. Coal is a finite resource. It may not be depleted in my lifetime, but would be in my grandkids time if we keep mining and burning it at the rate we are now. Thank God for forward thinkers.

kingman10

yes there is a lot of things buggs doesn't quite understand Vicky. He thinks fossil fuels have feelings and if we don't use them they will feel insulted. Kind of strange I know, but that is buggs. Next time ask him about pizza gate, you'll get a good laugh at his response.

Buggs Raplin

Gee, I wonder if John Podesta has decided whether he prefers dominos on cheese or pasta.

kingman10

well I don't know buggs, why don't you ask John Podesta. Even Alex Jones admitted to this bogus conspiracy story, but you just have to hang on to it. Careful how you order your pizza.

Buggs Raplin

kingman, have you seen Tony Podesta's art collection; it's available with a 'bing'.

kingman10

Don't care about someone's art collection, got nothing to do with anything. Thanks for the laugh, I knew I could count on you!

Buggs Raplin

I have nothing against renewables per se. It's the promulgation of them as a solution to human-caused global warming, which is a hoax. There's no such thing as human-caused climate change. It's a scam to generate a carbon tax.

senior

This makes me sick, not only are they Ugly on our beautiful landscape, they are Dangerous, they kill millions of birds and bats every year. We need our bat population and they are dying. They are glorified windmill that the farmers used hundreds of years ago, now called Wind Farms, Unique huh??? you would think there is something better after all this time.

oz

Having a senior moment, are you? You do realize these machines are far more modern and sophisticated than the Aeromotors that pumped water when you were a kid, right?

And by the way, for every bird or bat killed by a wind turbine, thousands are killed by house cats. So do you think we should ban cats?

Redwall

"Dairyland Power flips switch on next rate increase cycle"

kingman10

wow would you look at that buggs! Just look at it. Sometimes you just have to stop...and look at it!

Buggs Raplin

Chilly again today. Think I'll turn up the thermostat. God bless our fossil fuels.

kingman10

blessing an object as if it is a living entity is hilarious!

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