North Dakota, a state that ranks first in wind energy potential and 47th in population, is to cash in on some of that promise with its biggest development yet, the 50.6 MW Oliver County Wind Energy Center. FPL Energy, the largest generator of wind energy in the US, will build, own and operate the development in central North Dakota, then sell the electricity to Minnesota Power. Nine private landowners will lease land for the project, which will be among the first in the US to install Siemens 2.3 MW turbines. Last year FPL announced a purchase contract with Siemens for 600 MW of the machines. While North Dakota had only 98 MW of installed wind power at the end of 2005, the American Wind Energy Association contends the state is theoretically capable, provided adequate transmission capacity, of producing enough wind-generated power to meet more than one-fourth of all US electricity demand. "We buy some wind power from other sources, but this is the first project we've had built solely for our customers. We're hoping Oliver will be going by the end of the year," says Minnesota Power's Margaret Hodnik. The electricity supplier serves 137,000 customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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