Proponents of renewable energy have long touted the fact that it`s also environmentally friendly. And now there`s something else to brag about. It`s about to become more efficient as well.
A major wind farm project has found a way to do more with less and the company behind it hopes the Public Service Commission will help them out.
Duluth-based Minnesota Power has big plans in North Dakota. It`s building a massive wind farm project near New Salem, called Bison Wind Farm, which will help the energy company deliver the proper amount of Minnesota state mandated renewable energy to customers one day.
Minnesota Power is asking the Public Service Commission to change its initial plans because of new technology. The company wants to reduce its initial request to build 17 turbines, down to 15, using larger turbines with new technology that the company hopes will reduce operating and maintenance costs, be more efficient and produce more energy.
Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer says, traditionally, turbines in North Dakota have 1.5 megawatt capacity. These new units will have 3 megawatts. That means twice as much energy is created with half the environmental impact.
Cramer said, “I think that`s a win-win situation for consumers, certainly for the investors, and definitely for the environment.”
But the PSC isn`t completely sold yet. Commissioners agreed to issue a Notice of Opportunity, meaning North Dakotans can ask the PSC to hold a public hearing on the company`s change request.
If no one requests one, the PSC can act on the company`s request.
“Assumptions that we have made about noise level at residences nearby, are those still the same assumptions? Shadow flicker, any other kind of impacts that it could have on the environment,” said Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark.
The PSC already plans to hold an informal hearing on Minnesota Power`s request in early December.
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