Tuesday, May 13, 2008 By Aaron Brown
Minnesota Power announces the purchase of a transmission line and the intention to phase out of one of its coal contracts in favor of 200 megawatts of wind power from the Dakotas. From today's MP's press release:
In a major move to accelerate its strategy of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable wind energy development, Minnesota Power proposes to purchase a major transmission line from North Dakota, phase out a long-term contract to buy coal-based electricity, and add several hundred megawatts of wind generation.
The key element of this strategic project is Minnesota Power’s purchase of a direct current (DC) transmission line that extends from the wind-rich plains of central North Dakota to the Arrowhead Substation in Hermantown, Minn.
The proposal calls for the DC line, now owned by Square Butte Electric Cooperative, to be sold to Minnesota Power for approximately $80 million in early 2009. It is now used to transmit electricity generated at the Milton R. Young Generating Station in Center, N.D. 465 miles eastward for purchase by Minnesota Power.
Direct current is a more economical way to transmit power over long distances than the standard AC, or alternating current, transmission line. The DC line being purchased by Minnesota Power is a strategic and valuable transmission link between the vast wind resource in North Dakota and electric consumers eager to increase their reliance on renewable energy.
"Three decades ago, the DC line was built to move low-cost coal-based electricity from North Dakota to power the growing taconite industry in northeast Minnesota’s Iron Range," said Don Shippar, ALLETE CEO. "Back then, it was described as a way to transport ‘coal by wire.’ Now we will use the line to transmit ‘wind by wire’."