ALLETE wraps up construction of 107-MW Thunder Spirit Wind project in N.D.

ALLETE Clean Energy (ACE) said Jan. 5 that it has finalized its sale of the Thunder Spirit wind development to Montana-Dakota Utilities after wrapping up construction on the project in December.

A subsidiary of ALLETE Inc. (NYSE: ALE), ALLETE Clean Energy built the 107-MW wind farm near Hettinger, N.D., under a development agreement with Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU), a division of MDU Resources Group (NYSE: MDU). Montana-Dakota acquired the finished project for $200 million and will operate the wind farm for use by its utility customers.

“ALLETE Clean Energy continues to build its capabilities with the successful construction and sale of Thunder Spirit,” said Eric Norberg, president of ALLETE Clean Energy. “We look forward to leveraging our growing operational and development capabilities as we continue to explore opportunities in the renewable energy marketplace.”

Thunder Spirit is the first project ALLETE Clean Energy has developed and built for another company. The project features 43 Nordex N100 2.5-MW turbines. During peak construction, more than 200 contract employees were at work across the 10,000 acres of land included within the wind farm’s perimeter. Thunder Spirit is about 100 miles southwest of Bismarck, N.D., in Adams County.

“It is so rewarding to see a project of this magnitude come together to provide our customers with a low-cost source of power,” said Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of Montana-Dakota. “We could not have finished this project in a timely manner without the dedicated work of our employees, ALLETE Clean Energy’s management, and the construction provided by Wanzek Construction and Nordex. It was a great partnership.”

Thunder Spirit is the latest successfully completed project for a company that has experienced rapid growth since it was formed four years ago, now owning and operating wind facilities in four states with total capacity of over 500 MW. ALLETE Clean Energy’s most recent acquisition was a 101-MW facility in Armenia Mountain, Pa. ALLETE Clean Energy also owns and operates the Chanarambie-Viking and Lake Benton wind farms in southwest Minnesota, Storm Lake 1 and Storm Lake 2 in Iowa, and a wind farm in Condon, Ore.

Montana-Dakota said Jan. 5 that it was able to take advantage of the wind farm’s location, connecting to its transmission system in an area the company already provides electric service, further enhancing the company’s deliverability of power to its customers. Montana-Dakota will have employees on site to manage the site and grounds maintenance; Nordex will have staff on site to operate and maintain the towers.

Montana-Dakota Utilities distributes natural gas and generates, transmits and distributes electricity and provides related services in the northern Great Plains. The company serves approximately 142,000 electric customers and 267,000 natural gas customers in 262 communities in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

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.