Minnesota Power Completes Bison Expansion

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Allete subsidiary Minnesota Power completed commissioning on a $345 million expansion to the Bison Wind Energy Center, located in North Dakota.

According to Minnesota Power, the 205 MW Bison 4 expansion is now generating renewable energy to customers via a 465-mile direct current transmission line linking Center, N.D., and Duluth, Minn.

Bison 4 uses larger, more powerful Siemens wind turbine generators than the machines installed for earlier phases of the project. As such, it takes 64 turbines to produce about the same amount of cost-effective electricity produced by the 70 turbines installed for Bison 2 and 3.

Minnesota Power notes that several components of the wind farm were sourced regionally. Wind tower sections in Bison 4 were manufactured in Manitowoc, Wis., using steel produced from Minnesota taconite. With a portion of the generator units now manufactured at a Siemens plant in Hutchinson, Kan., – and the turbine blades fabricated in Fort Madison, Iowa, – Bison 4 incorporates more American-made components than the earlier Bison phases.

Construction of Bison 4, which began in fall 2013, included about 14 miles of new roads, upgrades to about 11 miles of existing roads and installation of about 55 miles of collector cable, in addition to the turbine erection that began early last summer. A new electric substation was built to serve the western side of Bison 4, and an existing substation was expanded. The project also includes a new meteorological tower and 11 miles of new 230 kV transmission line.

Including the expansion, the nearly 500 MW produced by Bison's 165 turbines make the Bison complex North Dakota's largest wind farm, the utility notes.

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