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Olivia is latest city to embrace wind energy

OLIVIA -- Olivia's famous corn monument is about to be overshadowed, and by the doing of its own city fathers no less.

All of the components for a wind turbine to be erected for the Olivia Municipal Utilities are now on site. Workers should be pouring the cement foundation for its tower in the days ahead, according to Dan Hoffman, Olivia city administrator.

He is hopeful of seeing the new tower erected and generating electricity for the city by Thanksgiving.

When completed, the tower and turbine blades will stand 115 feet.

The city's Ear of Corn monument stands 50 feet high.

It has become something of an icon for the officially designated "corn capital of the world.'' The monument was originally dedicated in 1973 along U.S. Highway 212.

The Olivia turbine will not be large by today's wind industry standards. For comparison, the two turbines recently installed in Willmar each stand 262 feet and have 2 megawatts of electric generation capacity. Each turbine there represents a $3.3 million investment.

The Minnesota Municipal Power Agency said the turbines in its member communities are being erected to help the members meet the state law requiring that 25 percent of total electricity sales come from renewable sources by 2025.

Like the corn monument in Olivia, the towers also serve a symbolic purpose. They show the community's commitment to renewable energy, according to the power agency.