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Steady stream of contracts signed, Minnesota developer

Power purchase agreements for wind farms in Minnesota totalling almost 23 MW have been granted to wind plant developer Northern Alternative Energy (NAE) of Minneapolis. by Northern States Power (NSP). The contracts were announced on March 31. One project, of 11.25 MW, will be built with 15 Micon 750 kW turbines. The other, 11.4 MW, will be with 19 Tacke 600 kW machines. Both projects, which NAE says will be worth $30 million together, will be on Buffalo Ridge near Lake Benton, the area where almost all of the state's wind development is occurring. The agreements must be approved by the state Public Utilities Commission.

"Once approved, the projects will be relied upon by NSP as part of its commitment to install 425 MW of wind generation by 2002," said NSP's Audrey Zibelman. Construction is expected to start in the late summer or early fall. Danish company Micon has a manufacturing facility in Hutchinson, Minnesota, and German Tacke turbines are made in Canada as well as Germany.

NAE also recently signed a letter of intent with IES Utilities Inc of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a 9.75 MW wind plant. A final agreement with IES was expected sometime during April or early May, says NAE's Greg Jaunich. "We will continue to develop wind energy projects in clusters around the Midwest," Jaunich adds.

Yet another feather in NAE's cap is the approval of a contract to sell 1.5 MW of wind power to Fort Collins Light and Power in Colorado, announced by the company on April 17. The wind power, generated in Wyoming, will be delivered across the state line to Fort Collins homes and businesses by November, says Rich Shannon, general manager of the municipal utility. The contract follows the announcement of another green pricing programme in Colorado, which is expected to bring wind power to customers of Public Service of Colorado by January 1998 (see ?)

Indeed 650 customers, far more than were expected, signed up for the Wind Power Pilot Programme operated by Fort Collins Power & Light. Ten of those signing up are businesses. All have agreed to buy the wind power at a premium for the next three years. "Light and Power has blazed the trail for wind power in Colorado," says Shannon. "Our customers will be the first in the state to benefit from this clean renewable resource." The utility's Wind Power Pilot Programme will be supplied through Platte River Power Authority of Colorado, which supplies to the towns of Estes Park, Longmont, Loveland and Fort Collins.

NAE says the power for the scheme will be generated by two Micon 750 kW units to be installed at Medicine Bow in Wyoming. The company also hopes to install a 1.5 MW Tacke at the same site within the next year. NAE owns Medicine Bow Energy Inc of Wyoming and the site is known for its existing Hamilton Standard WTS-4 turbine and for the huge Boeing MOD-2 wind turbine, dismantled in 1986. The 1.5 MW Tacke will be installed on top of the WTS-4's 75 foot tower once the old nacelle has been taken down. The turbine would be the largest in North America, says NAE's Jaunich.

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