An electric utility in Minnesota will expand its portfolio of renewable energies by adding 21 MW of new wind generation within the next year.
ELK RIVER, Minnesota, US, 2001-03-26 <SolarAccess.com> The move by Great River Energy will make it the largest voluntary wind project in the region. The cooperative has signed a letter of intent with enXco, a wind developer based in California and Project Resources Corp., a wind developer in Minneapolis, which will build the wind farm. GRE will purchase all the project’s output under a long-term contract. “I believe this proposed wind project would be the largest voluntary wind project in the region,” says John Dunlop of the American Wind Energy Association. All other wind energy development in the region has occurred as the result of public policy requirements. “Great River Energy is a member-owned cooperative and its members have expressed a growing interest in adding renewables to our generation mix,” explains vice president Rick Lancaster. “This single wind project will generate enough energy to meet the needs of approximately 8,000 homes.” The project will be sited in the southwest region on the Buffalo Ridge, although other sites are being considered due to transmission considerations. The wind farm is scheduled to be built and operational within the next year, at an anticipated cost of $21 million. “Every survey we’ve seen tells us it’s what Minnesotans want and we’re glad Great River Energy is listening,” says Michael Noble of Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient Economy. Customers who purchase most or all of their electricity from wind turbines will be able to tap into GRE’s decision to expand its Wellspring Wind Energy Program with an addition of 4 MW of wind energy to be constructed near the existing Chandler Hills Wind Farm. The program allows customers to purchase wind energy in 100 kWh blocks for a nominal monthly fee. The 4 MW wind project will also be developed by enXco and PRC. Once the two wind farms are completed, GRE will have a total of 27 MW of wind energy. GRE is based in Elk River, and provides electricity to 29 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is the second largest utility in the state, serving 1.4 million people.