Doing More With Less: Northern Wind Repower Project

by Allan Rudeck, President, ALLETE Clean Energy

AEIC’s members are at the forefront of the U.S. electric industry’s achievements that lead the nation and world in making meaningful reductions in carbon emissions. We’re doing this while maintaining reliability and affordability.

There are many ways this is being done, most notably integrating more efficient and lower emitting generating resources into the nation’s power supply. The most obvious of these trends is fuel switching — coal and oil to natural gas and renewables. Less obvious is replacing wind turbines with larger and more efficient equipment.

In rural America, one such industry leading upgrade project is underway. Developers and asset owners are leveraging new technology to do more with less in some of the nation’s richest wind resource areas.

The Northern Wind Repower Project in southwest Minnesota capitalizes on advances in materials science with new wind turbines that are taller with longer wingspans, larger wind-swept rotors that capture more wind energy and convert it to electricity.

Northern Wind initially went commercial in 2003 and was acquired by ALLETE Clean Energy in 2015. Originally comprised of sixty-five 1.5 megawatt early generation GE wind turbines, Northern Wind is located on the famed Buffalo Ridge, an area about sixty miles long running from Minnesota into South Dakota.