Photo by ALLETE.

ALLETE Clean Energy, Mortenson Repower Wind Power Site

Aug. 22, 2022
The wind farm will be repowered with 37 larger, more modern wind turbines.

ALLETE Clean Energy, a unit of ALLETE, and Mortenson are bringing the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy to rural Minnesota as the companies repower a wind project at ALLETE Clean Energy’s Northern Wind.

Northern Wind is on southwestern Minnesota’s Buffalo Ridge, the second-highest point in Minnesota and a powerful wind resource area. Northern Wind began operations in 2003 and was acquired by ALLETE Clean Energy in 2015.

The original Northern Wind site had 65 1.5-MW early generation General Electric wind turbines capable of producing about 280,000 MWh of electricity annually. When repowered with 37 larger, modern turbines, it will produce about 370,000 megawatt-hours per year, an energy production increase of about 30% from 40% fewer turbines.

The new turbines at the site will have tower hub heights of 80 to 90 meters, compared with 65 meters for the early generation turbines. The rotor tips will reach a maximum height of 152 meters above the ground, 53 meters taller than the older turbines.

Mortenson is installing the new turbines at Northern Wind, with towers now being erected, to be followed by lifting the rotor assemblies into place.

As the old turbines are removed from the site, more than 90% of the turbine bodies, wiring, and foundation concrete and rebar is recycled, further adding to the project’s environmental benefits.

When complete in late 2022, the repowered wind project will be sold to Xcel Energy. In the summer of 2020, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission requested Minnesota utilities to identify and propose projects that could help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession by putting people to work and increasing the amount of renewable energy while also reducing costs for electric customers. Xcel Energy issued a request for proposals and ultimately selected Northern Wind as one such project, in a build-transfer commercial arrangement.

In addition to improving the site’s efficiency, extending its working life and lowering carbon emissions, the repowering project supports the local economy and advances a clean energy future.

ALLETE Clean Energy acquires, develops and operates clean and renewable energy projects and is well-positioned to drive additional clean-energy sector growth. ALLETE Clean Energy owns, operates, has in advanced construction and has delivered build-transfer projects totaling more than 1,500 megawatts of nameplate wind capacity across eight states.

ALLETE Inc. is an energy company headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota. In addition to its electric utilities, Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power of Wisconsin, ALLETE owns ALLETE Clean Energy, based in Duluth; BNI Energy in Bismarck, North Dakota; and New Energy Equity, headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland; and has an 8% equity interest in the American Transmission Co. 

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