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Upper Midwest charges ahead with contracts

With wind development charging ahead in the Upper Midwest, contracts for a total of 25 MW of installed wind capacity in 17 projects in Minnesota and North Dakota were recently signed by Northern Alternative Energy (NAE). The deal is apparently the largest yet for dispersed wind development in the US. The 17 projects, most of which will be located on farmland in southwestern Minnesota and on Buffalo Ridge, are all smaller than 2 MW. The turbines will range from 500 kW to 2 MW in size, says NAE's Greg Jaunich. Minneapolis-based NAE, which announced the contracts on February 16, signed the power purchase agreements with Minnesota utility Northern States Power. The deal is a significant component of the wind development required in Minnesota. The utility is mandated by legislation to build or contract for 425 MW by the year 2002, notes John Dunlop, Midwest representative of the American Wind Energy Association. "It significantly reduces NSP's outstanding commitment to the first 425 MW," he says. About 132 MW must still be signed up and installed by 2002, he adds. Some 225 MW is on-line or under construction, most of it by Enron Wind. NAE's announcement came just over a fortnight after Minnesota state regulators ruled that NSP should buy or build another 400 MW of wind by 2012 (Windpower Monthly, February 1999).

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