Wind Farm Moves Forward Energy 2030 Framework

New Saratoga wind farm will be MGE's largest to date.

MGE has announced plans to own and operate a new wind farm about 200 miles west of Madison near Saratoga, Iowa, an area known for its wind. The 66-megawatt wind farm, which will be MGE's largest to date, will serve about 47,000 homes with clean energy.

MGE began scouting strong wind sites in summer 2016, ultimately selecting the roughly 13-square-mile site in Howard County, Iowa, in the fall. The site, initially developed by RPM Access LLC, is well situated because it's close to a substation and transmission infrastructure.

MGE's Assistant Vice President of Strategic Products and Services, Don Peterson, says wind turbine technology has improved in recent years, making them a more cost effective, clean energy option for delivering safe, reliable and sustainable energy to MGE customers.

"When we pursue new generation projects, we always look at what can deliver the most energy most economically, and wind has become a more competitive option as costs have decreased, turbines have become larger and more efficient," Peterson said. "Plus, this location meets our need for nearby infrastructure to get the power to our community."

Today's turbines are taller, which means they can take advantage of higher wind speeds aloft. Saratoga's turbines will reach nearly 500 feet in the air. For comparison, Wisconsin's State Capitol is 284 feet tall.

Mario and Annette in classroom

The Saratoga wind farm's turbines will be about 200 feet taller than the State Capitol building.

How wind energy works

Wind turbines have blades, like an airplane propeller. When the wind blows, the blades spin. The larger the turbine, the larger the turbine's "swept area." This produces more energy per turbine.

The energy from the spinning blades is fed into a generator that creates electricity. Click here for a more detailed explanation and animation from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Project advances Energy 2030 framework

Under our Energy 2030 framework, MGE will supply 30% of electric sales with renewable resources, such as solar and wind, by 2030. We've set a milestone goal of 25% renewables by 2025. Energy 2030 also includes a targeted 40% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. The Saratoga project is one more step toward our Energy 2030 goals.

In January 2017, MGE's innovative Shared Solar pilot project came online. The 500-kilowatt solar array on top of the City of Middleton's Municipal Operations Center serves MGE customers who opted into the voluntary program with locally generated solar energy.

Wind and solar are clean power options. Neither has any fuel costs nor carbon dioxide emissions, and they've become increasingly affordable as technology has improved.

Generation is expected by the end of 2018. Stay tuned to energy2030together.com for updates.

published: 02-21-2017 | updated: 11-20-2017