Alliant Energy proposing 2nd wind farm in northwestern Freeborn County

May 16—Bent Tree North Wind Farm would have fewer — but larger — wind turbines

Alliant Energy has announced plans to add additional wind turbines in Freeborn County with what it is calling the Bent Tree North Wind Farm.

The farm will include less than 40 turbines in Bath, Freeborn and Hartland townships, with buffer areas in Waseca and Steele counties.

Project representatives hosted an open house for the project Thursday night at the existing Alliant Energy operations building from the original Bent Tree Wind Farm in Hartland, inviting the community to learn more about the project.

Morgan Hawk, senior communications specialist with Alliant Energy, said the project, as currently designed, will add 150 megawatts of power — enough to power 60,000 homes annually. Energy generated by the farm would feed directly into the electric transmission grid and from there would go to where there is demand.

Hawk said the new turbines proposed for Bent Tree North would be much larger than the turbines in the original Bent Tree Farm.

Information handed out at the open house stated the old turbines were 80 meters tall with a 40-meter blade length while the new turbines proposed to be used are 112 meters tall with 66.7-meter blade length. This is due to advances in turbine technology improvements that allows for larger and fewer turbines to produce more power than the previous turbines. The turbines will be outfitted with aircraft approaching FFA lighting, and a red light on the top of the turbine would come on as an aircraft approaches.

Hawk said the project ties back into Alliant Energy's clean energy blueprint, of which wind energy plays a significant role. This blueprint acts as a roadmap to accelerate the company's transition to renewable energy, and includes wind and solar energy. He noted it's the company's goal to eliminate all coal from its generation fleet by 2040.

The original 201-megawatt Bent Tree Wind Farm, which has 122 turbines, began operation in 2011.

The new farm, once constructed, is anticipated to be operational for 30 years.

He noted that the original Bent Tree Wind Farm still has many years left as well.

"Bent Tree Wind Farm is a significant amount of our plans and our clean energy blueprint in general," he said. "It's a community that we enjoy being a part of. That's one reason we're interested in adding more wind to the county."

In addition to the environmental benefits the farm will bring, such as reducing the use of traditional fossil fuels, he said there are also economic benefits for the communities in which they are built.

The Bent Tree North Wind Farm is expected to deliver more than $100 million in wages, benefits, new tax revenue and landowner payments over the life of the project. He did not have specifics available on specific amounts that Freeborn County or other townships in the project would receive.

The project also has the potential to support 200 to 250 construction jobs, he said.

Hawk said Alliant has been working with local landowners in preparation for the project. The project includes landowners who voluntarily participate in the project and so far have been receiving positive feedback from those they are working with. Community and local officials have also been supportive.

The company expects to submit its permit application to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioner for review at some point later this year or next year, and once permits and regulatory approvals are made, the goal is for construction to begin in the second quarter of 2027 with the project being operational by the fourth quarter of 2027.

Alliant Energy serves customers in Iowa and Wisconsin and is currently the third largest utility owner-operator of regulated wind in the United States. As a company, it owns and operates over 1.7 gigawatts of wind energy across Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Bent Tree Wind Farm is currently the company's only wind farm in Minnesota.