Minnesota Power Taps Renewables to Power Operations


Minnesota Power says its customers are now receiving half of their energy from renewable sources.

The achievement highlights the success of Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy to transition to cleaner energy sources while meeting customer expectations for reliable and affordable electricity. The company reached this milestone when the Nobles 2 wind project in southwestern Minnesota came online this month.

“Minnesota Power’s next biennial Integrated Resource Plan is scheduled to be submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in February,” says Julie Pierce, vice president of strategy and planning at Minnesota Power. “That plan will outline scenarios for the thoughtful transition of our coal units at Boswell 3 and 4, the next steps for the transition to even more renewable energy and more investments in the grid to enhance reliability, all while working to ensure affordability, the health of our communities and opportunities for our employees.”

The Nobles 2 wind project will supply renewable energy to Minnesota Power through a 20-year power purchase agreement. The project is owned by Nobles 2 Power Partners LLC, whose investors include an ALLETE subsidiary, Tenaska and Bright Canyon Energy.

With Nobles 2 operational, Minnesota Power’s wind portfolio has grown to approximately 870 MW of owned and contracted wind capacity. The Nobles 2 wind addition also adds geographic diversity to Minnesota Power’s wind portfolio, complementing its North Dakota wind sites and contracts.

Nobles 2 is the second project this year to help Minnesota Power reach the 50% renewable mark. The first was the Great Northern Transmission line, energized this past June. This 500 kV line delivers 250 MW of carbon-free hydropower from Manitoba Hydro to Minnesota Power customers. Innovative power purchase agreements with Manitoba Hydro include a unique wind provision that allows Minnesota Power the flexibility to balance its intermittent wind energy in North Dakota with hydroelectric power that is available on demand.

Under Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy, the company has:

  • -Reduced carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 to the present
  • -Retired or idled seven of nine coal-fired generators
  • -Added nearly 900 MW of wind energy to its energy mix
  • -Added 11 MW of solar energy, with plans to add about 20 more MW in 2021
  • -Improved the reliability and resiliency of transmission and distribution systems

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