Wind energy turbines dedicated in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 7, 2002 — Less than four months after construction started, dedication ceremonies were held this afternoon for two wind turbines south of Minot, N.D. More than 100 people were on hand to witness several dignitaries flip a lever to “connect” the wind generators to the transmission system.

North Dakota Governor John Hoeven, U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, U.S. Senator Kent Conrad and U.S. Representative Earl Pomeroy were among the dignitaries dedicating the newest wind generation project in the state.

The dedication ceremony was hosted by Gary Williamson, general manager of Central Power Electric Cooperative, Minot. As he opened the ceremony, he said North Dakota’s electric cooperatives are now capturing another resource in the state – wind – to produce electricity. “More than 1,200 electric cooperative consumers have signed up to receive electricity generated from this and other wind projects that have been developed thus far,” he said. “We’re pleased to have worked closely with Sen. Dorgan and the Air Force through the appropriations process in order make this project possible.”

Development of the turbines is a $2.9-million joint project between Central Power and Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck, N.D., Ron Harper, Basin Electric’s CEO and general manager, said the turbines are part of PrairieWinds – Energy in Motion, a marketing program that provides renewable energy to electric cooperative consumers.

“These turbines represent a new chapter in Basin Electric’s history. In the last two years, Basin Electric has added new generating capacity fueled not only by wind, but also with natural gas. Electric cooperative consumers served by Basin Electric’s members systems can be proud of the investment that’s been made in North Dakota to ensure adequate power supply now and in the future.”

The Minot project has a generating capacity of 2.6 megawatts, and joins a similar project in South Dakota, near Chamberlain. These wind projects are integrated with Basin Electric’s other generating resources, Harper said.

Gov. Hoeven said North Dakota is the sixth largest energy producing and exporting state in the nation. “Nationally we are recognized as having the greatest potential of any state to generate electricity through wind power. Building our future in North Dakota means building a robust and diversified energy industry,” he said. “Basin Electric and Central Power are showing great vision and taking a stride toward that future by adding renewable wind power to their existing coal-based generating capacity. Energy is one of the pillars on which we are building our future in North Dakota, and the economic impact of wind power is significant.”

Sen. Conrad said the project adds more diversity to North Dakota generating capacity. “Anyone who stands out on the North Dakota prairie knows the tremendous potential for clean, renewable wind energy that our prairie skies can deliver. I commend Basin Electric and Central Power for creating this ambitious project and adding to the diversity of North Dakota’s energy industry.”

Congressman Pomeroy said this is a great step for Basin Electric, Central Power and North Dakota. “I commend the Widdel family (the landowners) and all those at Central and Basin who make this vision a reality. We have an abundant supply of wind energy in North Dakota and the PrairieWinds Project will help our state take advantage of this nearly limitless resource.”

The Minot project is being supported by a commitment from the U.S. Air Force. The air base near Minot (supplied by Verendrye Electric, Velva, N.D.) will purchase a significant portion of the project’s capacity. Col. James Rowland, commander of the Minot Air Force Base, said, “We are very proud to be part of this significant project along with the cooperatives. It is a step forward in renewable energy development and will benefit the entire region.”

The Air Force commitment is the result of efforts by Sen. Dorgan, who was very instrumental in providing an opportunity for the Air Force to purchase the renewable energy. “I am proud to have been able to use my seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide funds for the purchase of wind-generated electricity by the Air Force in North Dakota and elsewhere,” Dorgan said. “We need to add more clean and renewable sources of energy to the nation’s energy mix, so this is a really smart choice for the Air Force that will pay dividends in many ways. It’s also a choice that demonstrates a great deal of confidence in the people at Basin Electric, as well, and I congratulate them for that.”

The turbines are easily visible from a distance along U.S. Highway 83. The wind project will generate enough electricity to annually serve about 600-700 homes. The generators were supplied by Nordex, headquartered near Hamburg, Germany. They were manufactured in Europe and shipped to the Minot location. The turbine blades were manufactured by LM Glasfiber of Grand Forks, N.D., and the tubular tower pedestals were manufactured by DMI of West Fargo, N.D.

Both the Minot and Chamberlain PrairieWinds projects have the support of more than 4,000 customers who chose to buy wind power in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks for three dollars extra per month, Harper said. “There were enough initial sign-ups to allow us to begin construction, and additional sign-ups are still coming in. In addition to the Air Force purchase, rural electric customers in the region have signed up for more than 4.5 million kilowatt-hours of energy from these two projects,” he said.

The Minot project is virtually identical to the Chamberlain project, which began operating in January 2002. The wind turbines at Minot and Chamberlain are an integral part of Basin Electric’s generating family that includes two coal-based power plants in North Dakota – the Antelope Valley Station, Beulah, and the Leland Olds Station, Stanton; a coal-based power plant in Wyoming – the Laramie River Station, Wheatland; an oil-based peaking station – the Spirit Mound Station, Vermillion, S.D.; and nine combustion-turbine generators (natural gas) in the Gillette, Wyo., area. Two other wind farms – near Edgeley, N.D., and Highmore, S.D., are scheduled to be operational by the end of 2003. (The towers and generators for these projects will be installed by FPL Energy, Juno Beach, Fla., under contract with Basin Electric.)

Harper said 50 of Basin Electric’s 124 member systems now offer wind-generated electricity to their consumers.

Central Power and East River – both Class A member owners of Basin Electric – are marketing the project output through their retail member cooperatives. Basin Electric is marketing the remaining project output through other rural electric systems in the region including western South Dakota and western North Dakota and portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Montana and Wyoming.

Basin Electric is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative headquartered in Bismarck. It generates and transmits electricity to member rural electric systems in nine states: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. These member systems distribute electricity to about 1.7 million consumers.

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