The City of Milwaukee: Wind Energy on Lake Michigan (2014) |
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The City of Milwaukee: Wind Energy on Lake Michigan (2014)


The City of Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
United States

In February 2012, the City of Milwaukee commissioned its first wind turbine, making use of the Lake Michigan shoreline’s untapped wind resources to offset energy needs at the city’s Port Administration building and return surplus energy to the We Energies grid. (We Energies is the electric utility serving Milwaukee.)

Public-Private Partnership

The project was made possible by a public-private partnership in which Wisconsin businesses played a key role. Funding was provided by government and utility grants that covered the $580,000 cost of the turbine in its entirety. More than $300,000 in federal renewable energy stimulus money was provided through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, and $100,000 in grants were given by both the Focus on Energy Program and We Energies utility.

Milwaukee’s wind turbine was principally a Badger state endeavor. Although Vermont-based Northern Power Systems supplied the turbine, more than a dozen Wisconsin companies took part in the project. Kettle View Renewable Energy in Random Lake installed the generator, and Milwaukee-based RL Davis aided in site construction. Bassett Mechanical of Kaukauna built the 121-foot tower—the first wind turbine component that the company has ever fashioned.

Clean Energy for a Public Facility

The Port Administration building’s electricity consumption provides insight on the benefits of the wind turbine. In 2010, before the turbine was built, the building used 100,240 kWh of fossil-fuel-generated electricity, which cost the city $12,351 a year, and released 76 metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Since the turbine was completed, it has produced between 109,000 to 152,000 kWh per year, which not only supplies the electrical energy the building needs, but also produces between 9 and 52 percent surplus kWh, which can be sold back to the We Energies grid. The city saves $14,000 to $20,000 a year in electrical costs, and the turbine produces no carbon emissions.

The revenue gained from selling surplus energy back to the We Energies grid, and the elimination of the negative environmental and social impacts of using fossil fuels for energy production, make the Port of Milwaukee’s wind turbine more than an energy source. It stands as a symbol of the city’s dedication to a clean energy future as well as its commitment to maintaining Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a hub of American manufacturing.

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