Minnesota Power’s Bison 2 and Bison 3 wind projects near commercial operation

Minnesota Power said that barring any unanticipated issues with construction, technology or adverse weather conditions, commercial operation of the Bison 2 and Bison 3 wind projects is projected for December 2012.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued orders in 2011 approving Minnesota Power’s investments and expenditures related to the development of the Bison 2 and Bison 3 projects through Minnesota Power’s commission-approved Renewable Resources Rider. In those orders, it asked for periodic updates on the project. Minnesota Power is a unit of ALLETE (NYSE: ALE).

In its Oct. 16 update, Minnesota Power noted that these projects are an integral part of the company’s plan for obtaining 25% of its electricity for its retail customers from renewable energy sources by the year 2025. The Bison 2 and Bison 3 projects are each 105 MW projects, each consisting of thirty-five (35) 3-MW direct-drive wind turbines. Bison 2 and Bison 3 are both scheduled to be in-service by year end 2012 with projected annual energy outputs of about 380,000 MWh and 365,000 MWh, respectively. They are Minnesota Power’s second and third company-built and owned commercial wind energy facilities in North Dakota.

  • At Bison 2, in February 2011, Minnesota Power entered into a turbine supply agreement with Siemens for the supply and erection of thirty-five 3-MW turbines. The first delivery of major wind turbine components (nacelle, rotor hub, blades, etc.) to the project site in North Dakota arrived on June 5, 2012, with delivery of all wind turbine equipment for Bison 2 completed on Aug, 30, 2012. Erection of turbine components began on June 9, 2012, with completion expected by Oct. 31, 2012. Commissioning of the wind turbine generators began Aug. 21, 2012 and is anticipated to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012.
  • At Bison 3, in June 2011, Minnesota Power entered into a turbine supply agreement with Siemens for the supply and erection of thirty-five 3-MW turbines. The first delivery of major wind turbine components (nacelle, rotor hub, blades, etc.) to the project site in North Dakota arrived on June 21, 2012, with delivery of all wind turbine equipment for Bison 3 completed on Sept. 22, 2012. Erection of turbine components began on July 11, 2012, with completion expected by Oct. 31, 2012. Commissioning of the wind turbine generators began Oct. 8, 2012, and is anticipated to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012.

In order to realize the full benefits of the Bison projects, upgrading the existing high voltage direct current transmission line (DC Line) capacity is necessary to enhance deliverability. Minnesota Power has a transmission service agreement with the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) to increase the DC Line capacity from 500 MW to 550 MW by the end of 2013. All projects related to the associated transmission system improvements and required upgrades of the DC Line are on schedule and within budget, the utility reported.

The Collector Transmission Components for the Bison 1 project, consisting of the 230 kV Transmission Line, the 34.5/230 kV Collector Substation, and the Square Butte 230 kV Substation Modification, were placed in service in September 2010. The first part of the Phase 1 DC Line Upgrade, which included replacement of converter transformer heat exchangers at the Arrowhead DC Terminal and the Square Butte DC Terminal, along with replacement of smoothing reactor coolers at the Arrowhead DC terminal, was completed in November 2010.

The second part of Phase 1 includes both the replacement of capacitor banks at the Arrowhead DC Terminal and installation of capacitor banks at the Bison Substation, which are scheduled to be complete in November and December 2012, respectively. Phase 2, which includes replacement of the remaining converter transformer heat exchangers and smoothing reactor coolers at the Arrowhead DC Terminal and the Square Butte DC Terminal, is required to increase capacity of the DC Line from 500 MW to 550 MW. This work is scheduled to begin and be complete in 2013 during an outage at Square Butte’s coal-fired Milton R. Young Unit 2. Additions at the Bison Substation for the Bison 2 and Bison 3 wind projects were completed in August 2012.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.