Minnesota Power plans to start building 200 MW Bison Wind expansion

Minnesota Power said Aug. 1 that it expects to start construction later this year on a 200-MW expansion of its Bison Wind project in North Dakota.

Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE (NYSE:ALE), has called the Bison 4 project crucial to meeting Minnesota’s 25% renewable energy standard by 2025.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission is expected to hold a hearing on the proposed site certificate for the facility later this month. The company intends to submit a request to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for project approval and cost recovery through a renewable energy rider on customer bills.

Estimated to cost approximately $345m, Bison 4 will be constructed in Oliver County, N.D., north and west of the project’s first three phases currently in operation. The expansion will include a new substation and approximately 11 miles of a 230-kV transmission line.

The project will be the single largest wind addition to the company’s fleet.

Bison 4 will increase the company’s wind portfolio by more than 50% to more than 600 MW of wind generation. Construction on phase 4 of the Bison Wind Energy Center, anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter this year, will add 64 more wind turbines to the 101 turbines Minnesota Power has installed since 2010 near New Salem, N.D.

Estimated to be operational by the end of 2014, the project will generate enough energy to power 92,000 homes.

“Expanding Bison will add to our renewable energy supply, resulting in the lowest cost resource over time by capturing the benefits of the extended production tax credit and a competitive turbine market, while executing ALLETE’s growth strategy,” said Alliant Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.