Wind Power Expansion Benefits Minnesota

The state of Minnesota has a renewable energy goal to draw 25% of their power needs from renewable energy resources by 2025. Earlier we covered some progress toward that goal coming out of St. Paul. Now we learn that Minnesota Power has filed plans with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to construct an expanded wind energy project  to be installed and operated in neighboring North Dakota.

Minnesota Power already has the first phase of its Bison 1 wind farm up and running with 16 Siemens direct drive wind turbines operating in North Dakota. A second phase is set to be operational later this year. The Bison 2 project, meanwhile, would see 35 additional turbines installed in Oliver and Morton counties, costing the company about $157 million. Once online, which should be sometime in 2012, the company expects Bison 2 to add 105 megawatts to their growing renewable energy portfolio.

Oliver 1 Wind Farm

image via WindLogics

In order to shuttle the power from the wind-whipped state of North Dakota to Minnesota’s Arrowhead substation near Duluth, Minnesota Power purchased a high voltage “Direct Current transmission line” back in December of 2009. That line carries power from both the Bison 1 project and energy which Minnesota Power purchases from the Oliver I and II wind farms located near Center, North Dakota. Once Bison 2 is complete, its power will also travel over the DC line.

Minnesota Power said that the project will have no effect on the company’s base electricity rates. However, in the same statement, the company did indicate that it is seeking cost recovery that, if approved, would recover costs through a renewable resources rider. The company goes on to assert that the planned project should, in the near term, reduce customer’s rates.