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Wind farm in Mercer, Morton counties poised to begin generating power next month

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As the wind blows across the plains, it will soon start to spin 43 more wind turbines under construction in Mercer and Morton counties.

The Glen Ullin Energy Center is expected to come online next month. The wind farm boasts a 106-megawatt capacity capable of generating enough electricity to power 35,000 homes. It’s north of Interstate 94 between Glen Ullin and Beulah.

This is the second wind farm Allete Clean Energy has built in North Dakota. The first, known as Thunder Spirit in Adams County, was sold to Montana-Dakota Utilities.

Allete Clean Energy will continue to own the Glen Ullin facility and sell power to Xcel Energy.

Each turbine is equipped with a rotor that spans 116 meters.

“That’s a football field plus an end zone spinning in the air,” Allete Clean Energy President Al Rudeck said.

Wanzek Construction is building the turbines, and about one-third are complete, Rudeck said. The company also is making upgrades to an existing substation, where it will connect the turbines to the power grid.

Rudeck said about 150 people have worked on construction of the facility, with most the work being done this year, and up to 15 people will work at the wind farm once it’s complete.

Various subsidiaries of Allete, the parent company of Allete Clean Energy, operate other energy facilities in North Dakota. BNI Coal, for example, mines lignite at the Center Mine in Oliver County. Another subsidiary, Minnesota Power, owns the Bison wind farm in Morton and Oliver counties. 

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Rudeck said the company likes to operate in North Dakota because it “is very policy friendly, very much an all-of-the-above state.” He said Allete Clean Energy has had good interactions with landowners.

“We are actively working on expansion opportunities,” he said. “We think there are more opportunities to grow wind out here in North Dakota.”

The company held a dedication ceremony in Glen Ullin for the wind farm on Tuesday. At the event, Allete Clean Energy, along with Wanzek and General Electric, announced $34,000 in grants for several first response and 4H organizations, as well as local schools.

Another new wind farm owned by Xcel is set to come online this month in Dickey County. The Foxtail Wind Energy Center, as well as the one near Glen Ullin, come amid the utility company’s push to reduce its carbon emissions 80% by 2030.

“Xcel Energy continues to lead the clean energy transition and projects like the Glen Ullin Energy Center will help us meet our goals to reduce carbon emissions while keeping bills low,” the company’s North Dakota principal manager, Mark Nisbet, said in a statement.

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(Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or amy.sisk@bismarcktribune.com.)

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