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A Minnesota energy developer announced plans to build a 100-megawatt wind farm that will straddle Morton and Mercer counties.
Allete Clean Energy filed a letter of intent with the North Dakota Public Service Commission on Monday. The company estimates that the project will cost $200 million, depending on the final design and turbine selection, according to its letter.
Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said that he was not expecting the company’s announcement, but was not surprised to learn of it. Allete Clean Energy shares a parent company with Minnesota Power, the developer of the Bison wind projects in Morton and Oliver counties.
Minnesota Power also owns a direct current transmission line that is designated to carry wind power from Center to Duluth, Minn. Cramer said that energy developers would need to develop 550 megawatts to make full use of the line’s capacity.
“At every hearing (for previous projects), I’ve been particularity curious about how you’re going to fill that DC line,” Cramer said. “They’ve never answered that question under oath, which is understandable, because it’s not relevant.”
Cramer said that new project, along with the approximately 300 megawatts of the completed Bison projects, will help get that line to its capacity.
“I wasn’t shocked by it,” he said.
Allete Clean Energy was created by Allete Inc. as non-regulated energy developer that will market renewable power to a variety of customers. Allete Inc. also is the parent company of Minnesota Power.
Minnesota Power took over ownership of the DC power line in a deal with Minnkota Power Cooperative, in which the cooperative took full control of the Milton R. Young power plant.
Allete Clean Energy plans to finish site construction by spring 2012, according to its letter.
Wind installations are being spurred in part now by the possible expiration of the main federal tax credit for wind power at the end of 2012. Cramer expects more wind projects to be announced in the coming year to qualify for the credit. He said the name of the new wind farm, Clean Energy #1, could suggest future projects.
“It’s not a promise, but it certainly implies it,” he said. “You’re always compelled to say, ‘Is there going to be a sequel?'”
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