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Allete Clean Energy to build 100-megawatt wind farm

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Wind energy sector sees massive expansion in North Dakota

Rail cars loaded with 187-foot wind turbine blades await shipment at a rail yard north of Grand Forks.

Allete Clean Energy will expand North Dakota's energy production with plans to build a 100-megawatt wind farm in Morton and Mercer counties in North Dakota that will supply electricity to Xcel Energy under a signed power purchase agreement.

Under development since 2011, the Clean Energy 1 project located north of Glen Ullin has been permitted by the North Dakota Public Service Commission and has landowner agreements in place. Allete Clean Energy reports that construction is expected to begin in 2018 under a 20-year power purchase agreement between Allete Clean Energy and Xcel Energy. The project will be built with the latest wind turbine technology to maximize production and is expected to be complete in 2019. 

“We are excited to partner with Xcel Energy to deliver additional low-cost wind resources to serve their customers," said Allan S. Rudeck Jr., president of Allete Clean Energy. “We will work closely with area landowners, county officials and state regulators as we harness North Dakota’s world-class wind resources.”

Allete Clean Energy owns and operates wind generation facilities in Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon and Pennsylvania that were purchased from other companies. It also developed the 107.5-megawatt Thunder Spirit wind farm in North Dakota, which was sold to Montana-Dakota Utilities in 2015. Allete Clean Energy in January announced a plan to expand Thunder Spirit to about 150 megawatts.

“Wind prices are at historic lows, and we’re taking advantage of these low-cost projects to transition our energy fleet and secure these prices for our customers,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. 

When Clean Energy 1 is complete, Allete Clean Energy will own and operate about 640 megawatts of wind generation capacity in five states.

Announcement of the new wind farm follows the transition of a proposed two-year moratorium on wind projects to a study of the state's energy future by the state Legislature over the next biennium.

In response to the proposed energy study, a pro-wind advocacy group this week launched a six-figure broadcast campaign in an effort to educate consumers about wind energy.

“North Dakota has incredible potential when it comes to wind development. Windpower in North Dakota is already creating a better economy, adding more jobs for this generation and the next," said a statement released by two members of AWA's board of directors, Sam Enfield and Jeff Clark. "Increasing windpower is a bipartisan issue that has universal appeal because it lowers energy prices for consumers making the state more attractive for high-tech manufacturing and other industries."

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