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Two more projects in Minnesota

Two Minnesota wind projects developed by Northern Alternative Energy (NAE) on Buffalo Ridge began producing 23 MW of power in June, just under the wire to receive the federal wind energy tax credit which expired June 30. The output of the plant near Hendricks is being sold to Northern States Power (NSP).

NAE used 15 of NEG Micon's 750 kW turbines at the Lakota Ridge site (11.25 MW) and 18, 660 kW Vestas wind turbines at the Shaokatan Hills site (11.9 MW). "We put the projects in different areas and used different turbines to monitor the performance of the machines," says Greg Jaunich, NAE's president. The two projects cost $32 million and were financed by Chicago's Heller Financial of Chicago, in partnership with Edison Capital of California.

NAE will install an additional 30 MW along Buffalo Ridge beginning in the fall. Turbines ranging in size from 0.5 MW to 2 MW will be dispersed along the ridge so that NAE can capitalise on Minnesota's state tax credit that amounts to $0.015/kWh. The tax credit applies to projects under 2 MW. According to Jaunich, NAE will sell power from those sites to NSP for $0.035/kWh, plus the tax credit.

Jaunich says NAE, which now has projects in Iowa, Minnesota and Wyoming generating about 70 MW, plans to bid 133 MW of wind into NSP's 400 MW all source request for proposals this winter. If it gets the bid, Jaunich says the generation that would be built in Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota would include a firm back-up source, such as hydroelectric or thermal generation. Minnesota's legislature requires NSP to construct or contract for 425 MW of wind energy by the end of 2002.

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