Wind turbine spins again near Hewitt

The turbine has been out of commission now for many months but was back in action this week.

The Wing River Wind turbine operates south of Wadena.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

HEWITT — The three blades of the Wing River Wind turbine south of Wadena can be seen turning once more.
Passerby may have noticed the massive rotor has been motionless since about last November. But it sprang to life in the first week of March.
Minnesota Power purchases the energy generated from this turbine, Amy Rutledge, Minnesota Power communications specialist confirmed. She added that she could not comment on the reasoning for the outage, but was informed that it was to be operational again in March, which came to fruition.
Don Mcintire, of Hewitt, who owns the property where the turbine is rooted, said the outage can mostly be blamed on COVID. There was an electrical recloser that needed replacing on the unit, which had to make its way to Illinios and back. The recloser is like a circuit breaker on household electric lines, it shuts off electric power when trouble occurs, such as a short circuit.
"Due to COVID they waited and waited for parts," Mcintire said. He maintains the driveway to the turbine and helped load up the large parts for replacement. While it took longer to get everything back in place than he hoped, he agrees it's nice to see it spinning once more.

This turbine was celebrated in 2007 with developers and area leaders offering speeches and the Bertha-Hewitt marching band playing songs. It was even blessed.

WIng RIver LLC sign.jpg
A community based partnership with Bear Creek Wind Partners, Wing River Wind LLC and Minnesota Power allows for the generation, transport ad use of wind energy from the turbine located in Todd County.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

It was meant to be the beginning of a much larger project in Todd and Otter Tail Counties as part of the Bear Creek Wind Partners plan to construct up to a 47.5 megawatt large wind farm. At first plans were to build 12 more turbines by 2008. Than the plan expanded to 22 units. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission authorized the construction and issued a permit that was set to expire in 2039. Even so, with no action taken since May 2009, the permit was revoked in September 2014. Developers said in 2013 that they no longer planned to pursue the project.
And so, the dream of adding many more was dashed and the lone wind tower remains on its own, but now back in action.

When Don McIntire first gave the green light for a German-built wind-powered generator to be erected on his property he envisioned a string of the giants reaching down into Todd County.

About the turbine

A partnership of developers helped to build this turbine. Wing River Wind LLC, feeds the machine's annual yield of about 8.8 megawatt hours of electricity into the grid belonging to Minnesota Power.
It came online in 2007, so it's been operating for about 15 years.
According to the Wind Power website, this particular turbine can crank out 2.5 mW using a 90 meter rotor. It stands 260 feet tall. It's the only turbine in this particular area and is a Nordex brand unit, which is manufactured in Hamburg, Germany. It's considered commercial scale wind because it's over 100 kW and is sold to a power company.
Capable of generating 8 million kilowatt hours per year, this immense structure includes a 250 metric ton tower and 582 cubic yards of concrete held together with 103,000 pounds of rebar.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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