Wind Gets OK From Minnesota Utility Watchdog

Minnesota ratepayers will soon be paying for the state’s burgeoning wind power capacity through their electricity rates. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has unanimously approved Minnesota Power’s request for a renewable resources rider to recover costs associated with its $157 million Bison 2 wind project. The company filed the request back in April, stating that recent cost reductions for wind turbines, the area’s superior wind resource, and the availability of the federal Production Tax Credit made the Bison 2 wind farm the company’s most cost-effective strategy for meeting Minnesota’s Renewable Portfolio Standard of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

The company has made a significant investment in harnessing the area’s wind power resources. The 105-megawatt (MW) Bison 2 wind plant near New Salem, N.D., will consist of 35 Siemens direct-drive wind turbines, and will be located adjacent to the company’s Bison 1 project, now under construction. The second phase of Bison 1 is scheduled to be completed this year, with Bison 2 expected to be online in 2012. The company has also filed plans for Bison 3, a similarly-sized project, also scheduled to come online in 2012.

Wind power

image via Shutterstock

Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of Allete, provides retail electric service to 144,000 customers and wholesale electric service to 16 municipalities. Electricity generated at the site will be delivered to customers via the company’s DC transmission line linking Center, N.D., and the Arrowhead Substation near Duluth, Minn. The energy produced at Bison 2 will reduce the company’s annual carbon emissions by 90,000 tons, sulfur dioxide emissions by 70 tons, nitrogen oxide emissions by 60 tons and mercury by three pounds over the next 35 years.

“This project demonstrates that renewable energy can be a low-cost generation option that will benefit our customers,” said Allete Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik. “At the same time, it’s a logical next step that advances ALLETE’s growth strategy to meet the demands of an evolving energy industry.”

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Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

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