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MDU signs agreement to purchase wind farm expansion in southwest ND

HETTINGER, N.D.-An $85 million expansion adding 16 turbines to a 43-turbine wind tower farm is in sight for Hettinger in southwest North Dakota.Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. signed an agreement Thursday to purchase the expansion to be developed by...

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HETTINGER, N.D.-An $85 million expansion adding 16 turbines to a 43-turbine wind tower farm is in sight for Hettinger in southwest North Dakota.

Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. signed an agreement Thursday, March 1, to purchase the expansion to be developed by ALLETE Clean Energy (ACE).

"We are committed to investing capital resources to meet the needs of our customers and our growing legacy business," said David Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources Group.

The Thunder Spirit Wind farm is going to expand and produce about 155 megawatts of renewable energy and will increase MDU's generation portfolio from 22 percent renewables to 27 percent.

The company said the 16 turbines will produce 48 megawatts, while before there were 43 turbines producing 107.5 megawatts. The Thunder Spirit Wind project was constructed by ACE but purchased by Montana-Dakota in December 2015.

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The company said the new turbines will be online later in 2018.

MDU sees an advantage of electricity produced at the site because it is expected to be more economical than energy purchased on the market.

"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," Nicole Kivisto, with Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., said.

MDU said the location of the wind farm will be beneficial because it allows MDU to connect this project to the transmission system in an area the company already provides electric service.

Originally, Montana-Dakota signed a power purchase agreement with ACE for the expansion's generation, with the option to purchase the project, but Montana-Dakota made the decision of owning the project because they believe it is the cheaper option for customers.

The agreement was approved by the North Dakota Public Service Commission in November 2017.

The approval process then continued through the Adams County zoning board. John Plaggemeyer, an Hettinger County Commissioner, said that "the wind farm met all the zoning board criteria requirements."

"From then on, there's always some personal feelings involved in the decision making. Zoning board makes a decision then the County Commissioners make the final decision," Plaggemeyer said.

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He also added that there was a public hearing before the final decision was made where the public had a voice, this is also required by the zoning board policy.

Related Topics: ALLETE
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