Anoka became the sixth city in an 11-member group to get a small, wind-power turbine Wednesday. A 26,000-pound rotor-generator assembly was bolted atop a 70-foot tower north of Anoka High School along Bunker Lake Boulevard.

The 160-kilowatt windmill was an immediate hit with two ninth-graders walking past the tower from the pedestrian bridge over Bunker to the Rum River Library.

"It's good they are using renewable energy," said Kaylea Lorendo. "I hate it when they burn fossil fuel. At least they are finding an alternative energy so they don't have to find other resources that will burn up."

School officials have said they expect to incorporate the windmill into science classes.

The wind was blowing so hard Wednesday that installation almost stopped on the three-blade rotor, said Pete Hanson, a crane operator. Workers climbed a ladder in the tower to attach the generator cell and rotor assembly held in place by cranes, Hanson said. The tower is 115 feet tall at the top tip of the blades.

Anoka is one of 11 cities in the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, which bought a windmill for each city and one for its Faribault power station. The agency used renewable energy bonds to pay $3.6 million for the refurbished windmills acquired from Palm Springs, Calif.

The five other cities with windmills up are Buffalo, North St. Paul, Arlington, Brownton and Le Sueur. Chaska expects to erect its windmill next week, and Shakopee later this fall. All 11 cities will be connected to local power grids by year end, said Dave Boyles of Avant Energy, the agency's wind project manager.

Officials estimate the windmills will provide up to 1 percent of city power needs. Anoka's windmill is expected to generate enough power for about 40 homes or 25 percent of the high school's power needs, said Dan Voss, city electric utility director.

The windmills will help the agency meet a state requirement that most utilities provide at least 12 percent of their electricity sales from renewable resources by 2012.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658