Minnesota Power Signs Hydroelectricity Agreement

By KBJR News 1

May 26, 2011 Updated May 26, 2011 at 9:56 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- A long-term power purchase agreement between Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro will bring 250 megawatts of hydroelectricity to the Northland for 15 years starting in 2020.

That's about 15 percent of Minnesota Power's total energy supply.
Officials say this is good news on multiple fronts.

"It meets a lot of our needs," Minnesota Power Executive Vice-President David McMillan said, "and it also lets us look forward to a point in time when our generation portfolio looks more like a 50 percent coal, 50 percent non-coal resource base."

Power companies in Minnesota are required to be up to 25 percent renewable energy by the year 2025.

This new deal will not count toward that, but many say it's another step in the right direction.

"I think it signals that Minnesota Power is being very strategic about generating electricity in a lower carbon future," Izaak Walton League spokesperson Nancy Lange said. "The good thing that hydro power brings to a utility's resource mix is that it can be a very constant source of power."

Wind power is another renewable energy source used by Minnesota Power but the power it generates is more intermittent and more difficult to store.

"When the wind's blowing in North Dakota, the loads are down in Duluth or on the Iron Range," McMillan said, "we have a contractual arrangement with Manitoba to store some with them."

In 2005, Minnesota Power had about five percent of its power coming from renewable resources.

By the end of 2012, officials expect that to be closer to 20 percent.

Posted by Zach Schneider