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Montana-Dakota Utilities to expand North Dakota wind farm

Published 02 March 2018

Montana-Dakota Utilities has signed an agreement with ALLETE Clean Energy (ACE) to expand its 107.5MW Thunder Spirit Wind project.

The expansion of Thunder Spirit Wind, located near Hettinger, North Dakota, will boost the combined production at the wind farm to approximately 155MW of renewable energy, and will increase Montana-Dakota's generation portfolio from 22% renewables to 27%.

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

"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 107.5MW 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's cost is approximately $85m and is expected to be online in late 2018.

Montana-Dakota originally signed a power purchase agreement with ACE for the expansion's generation, with 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, noting that electricity produced at the site is expected to be more economical than energy purchased on the market.

Montana-Dakota Utilities president and CEO Nicole Kivisto said "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."

The wind farm location is beneficial in that it 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.

ALLETE Clean Energy president Allan S. Rudeck Jr. said: "We're proud that MDU again chose ACE to develop and build a second wind project that will benefit its customers, the state of North Dakota and the local Adams County economy.

"Wind energy is a valuable resource in North Dakota, and ALLETE Clean Energy is looking forward to applying our experience to bring the project to fruition."

Source: Company Press Release