A medical software company, Epic Systems, is planning to build Dane County’s first wind turbines in a move lauded by environmental advocacy groups and local citizens.

Epic Systems plans to build six 262-foot wind turbines, each with three 135-foot blades, on its Verona campus, according to The Wisconsin State Journal. The windmills will complement a geothermal system that heats and cools the area as well as a group of solar panels, WSJ said.

Don Hoffman, chair for the Springfield Town Board, said a few residents were worried about the windmills causing a fall in property values and about potential health issues the wind turbines may bring to the area. However, he said the majority of the residents seem to support the project.

According to WSJ, the addition of the turbines will allow the company to provide 85 percent of its own energy needs by 2014. The company expects the savings in electricity to pay for the wind turbines’ construction within seven years, WSJ said.

The wind turbines may also be visible from the Capitol and tall buildings in downtown Madison, according to WSJ.

Hoffman said the original plans to build the wind turbines were introduced by a different company in 2007. In 2008, he said the first public hearings on the wind turbines were held, and the project was approved the same year. However, Hoffman said the plans fell through because of financial problems.

Hoffman said at a recent town hall meeting Epic Systems and the council went through and made sure the plans fit state statutes, explained the plans to the community and answered further questions. Hoffman said the project is a good start to address issues related to fossil fuels, which he said would not last forever.  

“I think it’s a good reminder to conserve energy,” Hoffman said. “We can’t depend on fossil fuels forever because they’re only going to be around for another 50 to 200 years at the most.”

Michael Vickerman, program and policy director at RENEW Wisconsin, said more than 400 utility wind turbines exist throughout the state. He said Epic Systems is following in the trend of most wind installations in the state because customers and business are building the wind farms themselves rather than power companies.

Vickerman said throughout the state three more wind turbine projects will be finished by the end of 2012, and all these projects are focused on offsetting the cost of purchasing power and using fossil fuels such as coal. He said Epic Systems plans to finish by the end of the year to qualify for a federal tax credit that may expire by then.

“Epic Systems is making a statement where it stands on sustainability, and it is where the business community is going,” Vickerman said. “[This is] synonymous with what Dane County is saying [about renewable energy]. This is another expression of widespread support for clean energy for the future.”

He said medical science does not recognize any adverse health impact by windmills, though some people do not like them and may find them an annoyance.