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PUC learns of renewable energy sources  

Credit:  by Tony Potter Staff Writer | Hibbing Daily Tribune | www.hibbingmn.com 22 June 2012 ~~

NASHWAUK – There is a possibility for wind turbines as an energy source in Nashwauk.
Public Utilities commissioners heard a presentation on wind power generation from Minnesota Power during a meeting Tuesday at city hall. There are three steps to go by when inquiring about wind power, according to Frank Fredrickson, operations manager for Grand Rapids Energy Center.
“You need to look into the fundamentals, what needs to go into the project, then a strategy needs to be made and finally determine the steps for Nashwauk,” he said.
The more wind equals more production, Fredrickson added.
“Studies show it’s windier at night,” he said. “As the day warms-up, more energy generates and pulls the wind down – at night the wind isn’t affected.”
As a result, about 60 percent of wind energy is produced at night, Fredrickson said. In order to generate the proper amount of wind energy a combination of 1.3 and 3 watt mega-turbines is required.
“Wind speed function is controlled by site of the wind turbine,” he said. “Regulation needs to be in place to find the lowest energy costs.”
If Nashwauk or other areas were to build a new facility there are state grants available for renewable energy sources, Fredrickson said. There is no current estimate for how much a new facility would cost, but expenses are broken down into three categories including capital expenses, fuel costs and maintenance expenses. Payback can be set on a plan averaged at seven years and facilities have a life expectancy of 25 years. Also, a unique attribute of the wind turbines is they are remote operated so they can be shut down to protect them from damage in the case of over speed conditions or electrical issues.
In the case wind power is established on the Iron Range, rates would be 5 to 8 cents per kilowatt compared to 3 cents per kilowatt in North Dakota.
With those rates, the goal of Minnesota Power is to have 25 percent of its energy coming from a renewable energy source, Fredrickson said. By 2013, 80 percent of that goal is expected to be reached.
However, there are a few state restrictions regarding wind turbines, including:
• They must be more than a quarter of a mile out of town.
• They can’t be near residences due to excessive noise.
• They have to be away from roads because they throw ice.
“The positives override the negative,” Fredrickson said. “We see wind as an energy source … one that can benefit the future.”
No action was taken.
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved back billing to be added to the PUC policy stating whenever an NPUC bill needs to be corrected because of error to the utility or the customer, Nashwauk will refund the customer the amount of the error. Nashwauk can back bill the customer the amount of the error for a period up to when the error occurred but can’t exceed one year.
• Established distribution of culverts to residents at one culvert provided per residence. Additional culverts are to be purchased by the residents and must meet city standards.
• Awarded a bid to Hammerlund Construction regarding the water/sewer utility extension to Essar Steel Minnesota LLC (ESML) equipment maintenance shop.
• Tabled discussion on a report on water/sewer rate study in order to gather more information.
• Tabled discussion of electric system operation and maintenance scope of work until next meeting.
• Tabled discussion of sectionalizing ESML construction lines until next meeting.
• Heard an update on damaged 750 KCMIL cable from Bryan Adams, project manager for city of Nashwauk. No action was taken.
• Heard a report regarding trailer court electrical metering from Adams. No action was taken.
• Approved any commissioner to attend the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association conference on Aug. 20 to Aug. 22, in Brainerd.

Source:  by Tony Potter Staff Writer | Hibbing Daily Tribune | www.hibbingmn.com 22 June 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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