Minnesota Power pushes wind project forward

Minnesota Power announced today that it will move ahead with plans to purchase 33 Siemens wind turbines, each designed to deliver 2.3 megawatts of power in proper conditions. The Duluth-based utility is currently seeking regulatory approvals to install the turbines as part of its Bison I Wind development near Center, N.D. Minnesota Power aims to put up 16 of the turbines next year and the remaining 17 in 2011.

To get a sense of scale consider the wing span of these machines. The rotor of each turbine boasts a 332-foot diameter — greater than the goal line-to-goal line length of a football field. The rotors will be mounted atop  262-foot tall towers.

When the $180 million project is completed in 2011, Bison I is expected to generate 300,000 megawatt-hours operating at full capacity. That’s enough electricity to power about 33,000 homes. That juice will be transported back to Minnesota Power’s customers in Minnesota via a direct current transmission line stretching from the Square Butte Substation in Center, N.D., to the Arrowhead Substation in Duluth.

"We are pleased to see critical pieces of our long-range plan to expand wind development in North Dakota coming together," said Don Shippar, Allete chairman, president and CEO, in a statement issued today. "This project plays a significant role in our ability to meet Minnesota’s 25 percent by 2025 renewable energy mandate in a timely and cost-effective manner that makes sense for our customers."