Minnesota Power has completed commissioning on the latest phase of its Bison Wind Energy Center. The 205MW expansion, more than 500MW in total, makes it the largest wind farm in North Dakota and ranks Minnesota Power as one of America’s top-10 wind power-owning electric utilities.
All 64 Siemens turbines within the 35-square-mile boundaries of Bison 4 are now generating renewable energy, which is delivered to the company’s customers via a 465-mile direct current transmission line linking Center, N.D., and Duluth, Minn. In total, the nearly 500 WM produced by Bison’s 165 turbines rank it as North Dakota’s largest wind farm in terms of electric generating capacity.
Bison 4 is part of the company’s strategic EnergyForward plan for diversifying its energy supply while cutting carbon, adding renewables and reducing emissions at power plants.
Al Hodnik, ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO, credited Minnesota Power Chief Operating Officer Brad Oachs and his team for completing the entire Bison project in a timely and cost-effective manner.
“With this substantial addition of wind to our portfolio, we are meeting Minnesota’s renewable standard of 25% renewable energy by 2025, a decade early,” said Oachs.
On September 25, 2013, the North Dakota Public Service approved the Bison 4 site permit allowing construction to commence. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved on Jan. 17, 2014, Minnesota Power’s petition seeking cost recovery from customers for Bison 4 investments. The total project investment for Bison 4 is estimated at $345 million.
Minnesota Power was ranked eighth among all U.S. electric utilities for ownership of wind power capacity, according to statistics from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) compiled at the end of 2013. With the additional 205-MW capacity of Bison 4, the Duluth-based utility could soon be ranked among the nation’s top five wind power owners.