ALLETE Makes Headway On Midwest Wind Farm Refurbishments

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ALLETE Clean Energy has received the 45th set of new wind turbine blades from international blade manufacturer Tecsis for a project refurbishment initiative.

In August 2017, ALLETE Clean Energy announced an $80 million project that includes replacing select blades, gearboxes and generators on turbines at the Lake Benton wind farm in Minnesota’s Lincoln County and the Storm Lake I and II wind farms in Iowa’s Buena Vista and Cherokee counties.

The initiative will improve turbine performance and reliability, generate federal production tax credits at each site, and support the renewal of power sale agreements at the Storm Lake sites. Tecsis will provide more than 300 blades, using the latest design and manufacturing technology to drive improved wind turbine generator performance.

“Tecsis provided a cost-effective, turnkey solution that has exceeded our expectations,” says Bill Sawyer, general manager of operations at ALLETE Clean Energy. “Tecsis has demonstrated its ability to design, manufacture and deliver blades and manage the project that will position Storm Lake and Lake Benton to continue safe, reliable and increasingly efficient clean energy production for years to come.”

The refurbishment is being staged from 2017 through 2020 to minimize turbine downtime and maximize safe energy production at each site. In total, the sites produce about 700,000 MWh of energy per year, representing about 50% of ALLETE Clean Energy’s current electricity sales.

In addition, ALLETE has installed new communications infrastructure at the sites, integrating them into the company’s corporate operations structure. This includes new fiber optic connections, servers, and data acquisition and management systems.

Energy from the Lake Benton site is fully contracted through 2028, and approximately 8 MW of Storm Lake I production is contracted through 2032. Alliant recently extended its contract for Storm Lake II through mid-2020. ALLETE is working to re-contract the balance of the Storm Lake I power sales agreements that expire in late 2019.

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