Minnesota's largest wind farm and its largest transmission line built to carry wind power were both brought online last month in the busy Buffalo Ridge area of the south-western part of the state. At 205 MW, the Fenton Wind Project is owned and operated by Enxco, the US wind division of French state utility Electricité de France, which will sell the power generated by 137 GE 1.5 MW turbines to Xcel Energy in a 20-year power purchase agreement. Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction, which built the project for Enxco, counts Fenton as its 50th completed wind farm. The new transmission lines are part of Xcel's $160 million overall plan to build out and upgrade wires in the region. A 345 kV line, along with a pair of 115 kV lines, will deliver power from Fenton and other wind farms into the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. More than 500 MW of wind power has been installed at Buffalo Ridge, with another 300 MW or more expected online by the end of 2008. "Once the wind farms are fully developed in this region, we will be able to deliver up to an 825 MW crop of wind power from the fields of south-western Minnesota to the Twin Cities market," says Xcel's Doug Jaeger. "This region of Minnesota is very rich in wind power resources and we've been working hard to tap into it with this transmission line." Xcel's upcoming plans include an additional leg of the 345 kV line to be extended into Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A series of upgrades to existing lines is also in the works. Minnesota's renewable energy legislation, passed in 2007, requires Minneapolis-based Xcel, which has 3.3 million electricity customers in eight states, to obtain 30% of its home-state power from renewables by 2020.
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