Minnesota Power to go 20% renewable by year’s end

ALLETE (NYSE: ALE) unit Minnesota Power will approach 20% of generation from renewable sources by next year, in part due to the commissioning of the Bison II and Bison III wind projects in North Dakota, which will be completed by the end of the year.

In an earnings call Oct. 31, ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik said the two 105-MW projects have their turbines installed and are currently undergoing tests. They will be fully commissioned by the end of the year and will qualify for the expiring federal production tax credit, he said.

“We are proud of our nearly $550 million investment,” Hodnik added.

Minnesota Power is well ahead of the targets set by the state’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires 12% of retail electricity sales by Dec. 31, 2012, which increases to 17% by the end of 2016 and 20% by the end of 2020.

ALLETE reported third quarter 2012 earnings of 78 cents per share on net income of $29.4m and operating revenue of $248.8m, compared to 57 cents on net income of $20.5m and operating revenue of $226.9m in the third quarter a year ago.

The company said it benefited from increased energy sales, higher current cost recovery rider revenue and renewable energy tax credits associated with its expanding renewable wind generation portfolio.

“We’re pleased to report a strong third quarter that positions ALLETE to meet its financial targets as we approach year-end,” Hodnik said. ALLETE has narrowed its earnings guidance range and now expects to finish 2012 with earnings of between $2.50 and $2.60 per share.

ALLETE, Inc. is an energy company headquartered in Duluth, Minn. ALLETE’s energy businesses include Minnesota Power, Superior Water, Light & Power Co., BNI Coal and ALLETE Clean Energy.