Minnesota wind farm, transmission line dedicated

MINNESOTA - Minnesota’s largest wind farm and the state’s largest transmission line built to carry wind power into the Twin Cities were dedicated and will soon become fully operational, subject to final approvals by the regional transmission operator.

A total of 137 wind turbines, with a maximum generating capacity of 205 megawatts of electricity, comprise enXco’s Fenton Wind Project in southwestern Minnesota, making it the largest single wind farm in the state.

“Today’s event marks the 20th year in wind energy development for our company,” said James Walker, vice president of asset management for enXco, “and to dedicate the state’s largest wind park makes this milestone even more special.”

Xcel Energy’s 345-kV transmission line, along with two major 115-kV lines will deliver the power into the Minnesota High voltage transmission grid allowing delivery of the power from the Fenton Wind farm and other wind power resources from the Buffalo Ridge region of the state into the Twin Cities area.

“This region of Minnesota is very rich in wind power resources and we’ve been working hard to tap into it with this transmission line,” said Doug Jaeger, vice president of transmission for Xcel Energy. “Once the wind farms are fully developed in this region, we will be able to deliver up to an 825 MW crop of wind power from the fields of southwestern Minnesota to the Twin Cities market.”

Under a 20-year agreement, enXco will own and operate the Fenton Wind Park and sell all the energy it produces to Xcel Energy.

The agreement is similar to arrangements the independent power provider has with the utility in its other service territories.

“We’re proud to have built this magnificent wind farm not only because it will provide alternative energy to the citizens of Minnesota for years to come but also because it stands as a symbol of this country’s efforts to chart a new energy course,” noted Tom Wacker, senior vice president of Mortenson Construction, which built the project for enXco. Wacker announced that Mortenson’s Energy Group celebrates its 50th completed wind farm project with Fenton.

Approximately 515 MW of wind power capacity has been installed in the Buffalo Ridge area of southwestern Minnesota. About 350 MW of additional wind power capacity is planned to be on-line by 2008. Existing transmission from the region was not able to carry the anticipated wind power load until the new transmission lines were completed. An additional leg of the 345-kV transmission line soon will be completed into Sioux Falls to support the transmission grid in that region.

The transmission grid, in which the Fenton wind farm and southwestern line will operate, is managed by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO), one of the nation’s regional transmission management organizations. MISO is responsible for dispatching and balancing generating and transmission resources to serve customer demand throughout the Midwest and Upper Midwest region of the nation. MISO is expected to commission the Fenton wind farm and transmission lines into operation in the next few weeks.

During the 2007 legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers passed and Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed into law legislation that requires the state’s utilities to obtain 25 percent of their electrical energy from renewable resources. Xcel Energy, which supported the new law, must obtain 30 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020.

“That means we will have to build more wind farms and more transmission in order to meet this ambitious goal,” Jaeger said.


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