Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Milwaukee Considering Lakefront Wind Turbines

The city of Milwaukee has seen a lot of development along its lakefront in the past couple of years with such projects as the Milwaukee Art Museum renovation and the building of Discovery World on Pier Wisconsin. Currently the city is seeing another high-profile project that could add more landmarks to the lakefront.

Milwaukee officials are considering installing one to three wind turbines near the Lake Express car ferry terminal or by the Port offices in Milwaukee's, Bay View neighborhood. City officials are considering if Milwaukee should follow in other Great Lake cities footsteps such as Toronto and Cleveland and erect wind turbines in an urban setting.

"If the project is approved," said Erick Shambarger, a city environmental sustainability manager, "the project would be funded by the federal economic stimulus package."

"No property tax dollars would be involved," Shambarger stated, "The purpose is to power the Port administration building with renewable energy."

Milwaukee is allocating most of its block grant money towards programs that aim to boost energy efficiency and conservation efforts. Shambarger hopes that if the erection of wind turbines on the lakefront is approved that the project will "show the city's commitment to renewable power."

City officials are considering two different types of turbines for the project. One turbine would be 115 feet tall while the other would be 156 feet tall.

No final decision has been made yet to go through with the project. On Thursday the city will be holding a meeting to offer residents a chance to express their opinions on the project. "We really want to get public input," said Shambarger.

The cost of the project is still unknown and would depend on the types of turbines that would be selected. The larger of the turbines is estimated to cost around $550,000 but the actual price could be reduced by incentives offered from the Focus on Energy Program and the Milwaukee utility We Energies.

We Energies spokesman, Brian Manthey said, "the utility provides incentives of $10,000 to $100,000 for renewable energy projects installed by nonprofit organizations and governments. Funding is awarded after Focus on Energy agrees to provide an incentive for the project."

If interested in attending the informational meeting regarding the turbines it will be held Thursday, January 13th, at 6 p.m. at the South Shore Park Pavilion in Bay View.

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