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Published April 21, 2009, 06:26 PM

Minnesota Power plans 33-turbine wind farm in North Dakota

Electricity produced by the wind farm will be transmitted directly to Duluth to help power as many as 33,000 homes.

Minnesota Power says it will purchase 33 giant wind turbines for a new wind farm in North Dakota that will produce electricity specifically for the Duluth market.

The company announced today that it will purchase Siemens wind turbines designed to generate 2.3 megawatts of power each in proper conditions. The Duluth-based utility is currently seeking regulatory approvals to install the turbines as part of its Bison I Wind development near Center, N.D. Minnesota Power aims to put up 16 of the turbines next year and the remaining 17 in 2011.

To get a sense of scale, consider the wing span of these machines. The rotor of each turbine boasts a 332-foot diameter — longer than a football field. The rotors will be mounted atop 262-foot tall towers.

When the $180 million project is completed in 2011, Bison I is expected to generate 300,000 megawatt-hours annually at full capacity. That’s enough electricity to power about 33,000 homes. That juice will be transported back to Minnesota Power’s customers in Minnesota via a direct current transmission line stretching from the Square Butte Substation in Center, N.D., to the Arrowhead Substation in Duluth.

“We are pleased to see critical pieces of our long-range plan to expand wind development in North Dakota coming together,” said Don Shippar, Allete chairman, president and CEO. “This project plays a significant role in our ability to meet Minnesota’s 25 percent by 2025 renewable energy mandate in a timely and cost-effective manner that makes sense for our customers.”