East Grand Forks has one wind turbine that generates one-half of 1 percent of the city’s energy needs.
However, despite pressure by state government and the Obama administration for more alternative energy, don’t expect the city’s sole wind tower to grow into a wind farm.
“The turbine was put in mostly for educational purposes,” said Mark Tresidder of the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, an electricity wholesaler that serves East Grand Forks and 10 other cities in the state.
“What we mostly wanted when we put a turbine in each of our 11 cities was to show the people what green energy looks like and how it operates and get them interested in energy development. If we go with more wind energy, we’ll do so with one of our existing, larger-turbine wind farms.”
The state energy mandate calls for renewable sources to provide 25 percent of the load by 2025.
“It’s going to be a diverse portfolio of options, including wind and bio-fuels,” Tresidder said. “I don’t know what the mix will be, but I know it will be a variety of things.”
One possible option would be to add turbines to the MMPA’s 44-megawatt Oak Glen Wind Farm in southeastern Minnesota that generates enough electricity to power 14,000 homes. In comparison, East Grand Forks uses 32 megawatts at its peak times, which usually happen in the winter.
East Grand Forks’ turbine is considerably smaller than those at Oak Glen. The MMPA installed the 115-foot turbine just east of the city limits along U.S. Highway 2 in December 2009. The turbine supplies enough energy to power 25 to 30 homes, according to Dan Boyce, East Grand Forks Water & Light general manager.
Although that’s a small percentage of the city’s demand, the turbine has been reliable, shut down only when either icy or very windy conditions prevail, Boyce said.
“The output has been relatively consistent and reasonably predictable,” he said.
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