What is the Wellspring renewable wind energy program all about?
The Wellspring renewable wind energy program is a voluntary program that
offers wind-generated electricity to co-op members. Electricity provided
by wind generation is a coordinated effort between North Itasca Electric
Cooperative, Great River Energy and its other 28 distribution
How will wind power be produced?
Wind power will be produced using new giant wind turbines. The number of
turbines built will be determined by the number of customers who choose
to subscribe for the service. The higher the level of Wellspring
subscriptions the larger the new wind farm. The Chandler Hills Wind Farm
currently consists of nine utility scale (660KW each) wind turbines with
a combined nameplate capacity of nearly 6 MW. If customer demand is high
enough, the wind farm could be expanded.
How do customers participate?
First, to participate in the program, you must be a customer of North
Itasca Electric Cooperative or one of Great River Energy's other 28
member cooperatives. We are asking interested customers to make a
minimum one-year commitment to buy electricity from the Wellspring
renewable wind energy program for a slight added cost.
Is the wind power supplied directly to my home?
No. The electricity generated by the wind turbines is fed into the
state's electric system, called the grid. It is like pouring a pitcher
of water into a pond. You can't get the water from the pitcher back out
of the pond. The same holds true for recapturing wind-generated
electricity from the grid. It is there, available to use, but to deliver
the exact electron generated by the wind turbine is not possible. The
wind power that you purchase will replace electricity that would have
been generated by conventional fossil fuels.
Will customers still receive traditional sources of power?
Yes. Customers won't be able to distinguish whether the electrons
flowing into their homes were generated by wind power or not. But
customers can be assured their commitment to Wellspring renewable wind
energy will result in the construction of new wind generators that will
help lessen our reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
Will power in customers' homes be dependent upon the wind blowing?
No. Customers' power will continue as usual.
How does this project affect people who do not subscribe?
This project has no impact on customers who do not want to participate.
Many customers may be satisfied knowing their power is produced by
efficient conventional power plants. This project is for customers who
want to utilize renewable energy resources, and are willing to pay the
extra costs associated with it.
What do the wind turbines look like?
The towers are 213 feet tall with a rotor and generator mounted at the
top. The rotor has a diameter of 47 meters or over half the length of a
football field. The site of wind turbines is along the windy Buffalo
Ridge in southwestern Minnesota.
Are turbines dangerous to birds?
There is a risk if a bird flies into the spinning turbine. However, the
new large turbine blades rotate at a relatively slow speed and have a
much lower risk to birds than earlier turbine designs. In addition, the
Buffalo Ridge area is not near a major bird flyway, further reducing the
potential for avian mortality.
What if a customer moves?
A customer moving within the cooperative service territory can maintain
their commitment to Wellspring renewable wind energy by simply being
transferred to their new address.
Why is this program being offered?
North Itasca Electric Cooperative customers have indicated a preference
for renewable energy options. Renewable energy is a product that
customers want and we are in the business of providing what customers
Will other "green" resources be offered in the future?
The decision to offer additional "green" resources will be made by
customers. Wind is currently the most cost-effective renewable resource
available. Co-ops will continue to assess the viability of other
Will customers get all of their electrical energy from the Wellspring
renewable wind energy program?
Customers can decide how much wind energy they want to buy (in 100 kWh
blocks). Customers can purchase an amount up to their normal monthly
consumption. For example: if their normal usage is 800 kWhs/month they
can purchase up to eight blocks.
Will wind power cost more?
Yes. Although this project is the most cost-effective "Green Resource"
option we have identified, it is still more expensive than conventional
electrical energy generating options. The main reason is the relative
high cost of the wind turbine, which can only produce power when the
wind blows. The extra cost of wind power will be passed directly through
to the consumer. We estimate that wind power will be available for about
an additional two dollars per 100 kWh block of energy.
The typical household uses 800 kWhs/month of energy per month.
What is the schedule for this program?
The first three turbines were commissioned in 1999, with six additional
turbines following in December 2001. Future additions will be determined
by customer demand for Wellspring energy.
When will I be billed for the Wellspring blocks I purchase?
Wellspring customers will be billed on a monthly basis. If Wellspring
demand exceeds supply, customers won't be billed until new turbines come
How do you keep customers informed of the progress of the Wellspring
Progress will be reported throughout the various phases of the project
in the Watt's News or local newspaper articles.
If you want to participate in the Wellspring renewable energy program,
fill out the Application form and send it in. Call Jerry Loney,
Energy Management Specialist, for further information at (218) 743-3131 or 1 (800) 762-4048 or
email him at email@example.com