Duluth Port, Minnesota Power reach milestone in wind energy 11 years ahead of schedule

By KBJR News 1

July 14, 2014 Updated Jul 14, 2014 at 6:40 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Duluth Port experienced a milestone today when the 15th ship, bearing wind generation equipment, sailed into the harbor from Denmark.

It coincides with a significant Minnesota Power milestone that is putting their renewable energy program ahead of schedule.

The relatively larger scale cooling units and generators unloaded from the BBC Peter Roenna Monday are being delivered by truck to the Bison Wind Energy Center, in North Dakota.

There, they'll be added to Bison 4, a 205–megawatt addition to the wind farm.

And that's where the milestone comes in, because once operational Bison Four will push Minnesota Power past the 25 percent renewable energy goal established by state legislators 11 years ahead of the 2025 deadline.

"Now, there's European countries that have gone well beyond that," said Minnesota Power executive vice president Dave McMillan as massive cooling units were lowered from the ship to the Duluth Port ground via crane behind him, "but we're getting near a full decade ahead of what the Minnesota law is."

And while energy from the Bison Wind project is made in North Dakota, Minnesotans are feeling the benefit.

"All of the output of the Bison Wind Farms is transported electrically over the direct current line that we purchased in 2009 and comes right into a substation outside of Duluth here," said McMillan, smiling.

According to McMillan, being years ahead of schedule is only made sweeter by the local and regional work it creates.

"Well what's great is that we get to put all this local infrastructure and all the job creation that goes with transshipping assets of this size to work," said McMIllan.

There's a major energy boom happening in North Dakota right now, and according to Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director Vanta Coda, a simple reason why the Duluth Port is benefiting.

"We are the closest port to that boom," said Coda, "from a long–term standpoint, I see that developing over time."

McMillan says, for now, this is Minnesota Power's final investment in the Bison Wind Energy project, toward which a significant majority of their $835 million investment in their Energy Forward plan was directed.

But he says more break bulk cargo opportunities for the Port are on the horizon.

The Bison Wind Energy Project should be completed by year's end.

Billy Wagness
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