ALLETE Clean Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of ALLETE Inc., says it will repower and expand the Northern Wind site – consisting of the Chanarambie and Viking wind projects in southwest Minnesota – by replacing the existing turbines with new, more efficient equipment.
When repowered in 2022, the project, totaling 120 MW of capacity, will be sold to Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based utility holding company. Adding new wind energy and repowering older wind sites will help Xcel Energy deliver 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.
The wind repowering project was spurred by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s request for projects that could help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession by putting people to work and increasing the amount of renewable energy customers receive, while also reducing costs over the life of the project. Installing new wind turbines at existing wind sites can increase electricity production by more than 10%, saving customers money over the next 25 years.
“We’re proud to provide this valuable clean-energy solution for Xcel Energy and its customers,” says Allan S. Rudeck Jr., president of ALLETE Clean Energy. “This project is the latest example of our strategy to advance sustainable energy solutions while investing in local communities. It is a four-part winner that will deliver more clean energy to decarbonize the nation’s energy supply, contribute to more affordable electric rates for customers, and spur local employment and economic activity – all while providing an opportunity to reallocate capital into complementary clean energy growth opportunities.”
ALLETE Clean Energy also recently completed a refurbishment project to improve performance and reliability at the nearby Lake Benton I wind site in southwest Minnesota, which sells energy to Xcel Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement.
Many productive wind sites in the Upper Midwest were built in the 1990s and early 2000s when the wind industry was still developing. Recent advances have enabled wind turbines to capture more energy at the same wind speeds, increasing the amount of production and decreasing costs.
The sale and redevelopment of the wind sites are pending regulatory approval. Xcel Energy plans to file the request to repower and purchase the project in the coming weeks.