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Wisconsin utility prepared to own wind as well as buy it

Alliant Energy says it is willing to consider ownership of wind projects as an option in its latest request for 100 MW of wind through its subsidiary, Wisconsin Power and Light Co (WP&L). The utility wants bids by May 28 for wind projects from 10 MW to 100 MW increments, all to be located in Wisconsin. Alliant currently buys 336 MW of wind generation in Wisconsin and Iowa, none of which it owns. Alliant's Kim Zuhlke, however, says that could change. The company is increasingly interested in taking an ownership in wind projects because of its growing expertise, she says. "We believe this may be an appropriate time to begin establishing an ownership interest in wind generation that will benefit the state, our customers, and our shareowners," says Zuhlke. The solicitation follows Alliant's announcement last year that it intends to buy or build another 230 MW of wind capacity in the next few years (Windpower Monthly, February 2004). This solicitation represents the first 100 MW of that intention. A solicitation for the remaining 130 MW, all to be located in Iowa, will be released later. A report released last month by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission could give wind a boost in the state. It found that power needs in Wisconsin will grow by 2.5%, or 375 MW, a year through 2010, adding about 12% to electricity bills, largely due to the volatility of gas supply and price. The Strategic Energy Assessment says the state could consider raising the level of Wisconsin's renewables mandate from the current 2.2% of electricity by 2011 to the 10% by 2008 recommended by the Governor Jim Doyle's Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables.

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