The COVID-19 pandemic has had far reaching effects, and rural communities have felt it. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commissions identified an opportunity to boost the economy and bring jobs to a southwestern Minnesota community through the repowering of Northern Wind Energy Redevelopment – while also increasing electricity production and offering their customers savings to electricity usage over the next two decades.
ALLETE Clean Energy worked with Mortenson to develop and deliver this innovative project that brings resources to rural Minnesota’s economy. The project also does its part in reducing the effects of climate change for decades to come by constructing new wind energy, while repowering older wind sites. Through installing new turbines, the Northern Wind project can contribute to an increase in electricity production by 30% - leading to customer savings and a stronger economic outlook. The project will result in an increase in customer use of clean renewable wind energy, while also reducing energy costs to those customers over the life of the project.
The original Northern Wind site, constructed by Mortenson in the early 2000s, had 65 1.5-megawatts early generation General Electric wind turbines, capable of producing about 280,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. Repowering this site included the removal of all 65 turbines and replacing them with 37 larger, modern turbines, producing about 370,000 megawatt-hours per year, an energy production increase of about 30%, from 40% fewer turbines.
Green Building Solutions
All companies involved are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and bringing renewable energy to the grid. Specifically, the project will support Xcel Energy in delivering on its plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 – in pursuit of the company’s vision to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. To further enforce green building solutions, of the old turbines removed from the site, more than 90% of the turbine bodies, wiring, and foundation concrete and rebar were recycled, further adding to the project’s environmental benefits.
Located on the second-highest point in Minnesota, and among one of the nation’s best wind resources, Northern Wind is located on southwestern Minnesota’s Buffalo Ridge.
Northern Wind began operations in 2003 and was acquired by ALLETE Clean Energy in 2015. After repowering the site in 2022, ALLETE sold the assets to Xcel Energy.
Facts And Figures
ALLETE Clean Energy
Completed December 2022