Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., a division of MDU Resources Group, has signed an agreement to purchase a North Dakota wind farm expansion to be developed by ALLETE Clean Energy (ACE), a subsidiary of ALLETE Inc.
The expansion of Thunder Spirit Wind, located near Hettinger, N.D., will boost the combined production at the wind farm to approximately 155 MW of renewable energy and will increase Montana-Dakota’s generation portfolio from 22% to 27% renewables.
“We are committed to investing capital resources to meet the needs of our customers and our growing legacy business,” says David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources Group. “This project is a positive step in executing that plan and will be a great cost-effective addition to Montana-Dakota’s generation portfolio.”
The original 107.5 MW Thunder Spirit Wind project was constructed by ACE and included 43 turbines; it was purchased by Montana-Dakota in December 2015. The expansion calls for 16 turbines producing 48 MW. The project, costing approximately $85 million, is expected to come online in late 2018.
Montana-Dakota originally signed a power purchase agreement with ACE for the expansion’s generation, including an option to purchase the project. Montana-Dakota determined that owning the project was the least-cost option for its customers. The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved Montana-Dakota’s request for an advance determination of prudence for purchasing the expansion in November 2017.
“Our relationship with ACE on the first phase of Thunder Spirit Wind proved to be a winning formula. We need additional energy to meet our growing demands, and with the easements, interconnection to the grid and permits already in place from the first phase of Thunder Spirit Wind, it makes this a great project for our Montana-Dakota customers,” says Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of Montana-Dakota.
The wind farm’s location allows Montana-Dakota to connect the project to its transmission system in an area the company already provides electric service, further enhancing the company’s deliverability of power to its customers.