ALLETE Clean Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of ALLETE, has received the 45th set of new wind-turbine blades from international blade manufacturer Tecsis. The blades are for ALLETE’s refurbishment initiative at its Storm Lake and Lake Benton wind facilities in Iowa and Minnesota, respectively.
In August 2017, the company announced an $80 million project that includes replacing select blades, gearboxes, and generators on turbines at the Lake Benton wind site in Lincoln County, Minnesota, and the Storm Lake I and II wind sites in Buena Vista and Cherokee counties, Iowa.
The project will improve turbine performance and reliability, generate federal production tax credits at each site and support the renewal of power sale agreements at the Storm Lake sites.
The refurbishment is being staged from 2017 through 2020 to minimize turbine downtime and maximize safe energy production at each site. In total, the sites produce about 700,000 megawatt-hours of energy per year, representing about 50% of ALLETE Clean Energy’s current electricity sales.
According to the agreement, Tecsis will provide more than 300 blades, using the latest design and manufacturing technology to drive improved wind-turbine generator performance.
“Tecsis provided a cost-effective, turnkey solution that has exceeded our expectations,” said Bill Sawyer, general manager – operations at ALLETE Clean Energy. “Tecsis has demonstrated its ability to design, manufacture, and deliver blades and manage the project that will position Storm Lake and Lake Benton to continue safe, reliable and increasingly efficient clean energy production for years to come.”
In addition to the turbine refurbishments that will continue through 2020, the project has completed installation of new communications infrastructure at the sites, integrating them into ALLETE Clean Energy’s corporate operations structure. New fiber optic connections, servers, and data acquisition and management systems will improve the operation of each site and secure the best performance.
“We are extremely excited about our partnership with ALLETE, a world-class power producer that constantly seeks the best energy solutions for North America’s renewables market,” said Fabiano Mori, chief executive officer of TECSIS. “Their ability to explore opportunities and their passion to create innovative solutions are undoubtedly some of the main reasons for their growth and something we take as an inspiration for our own business. We hope this project leads to more opportunities together in the future, helping them to deliver affordable, sustainable power to communities across the U.S.”
Energy from the Lake Benton site is fully contracted through 2028, and approximately 8 MW of Storm Lake I production is contracted through 2032. Alliant recently extended its contract from Storm Lake II through mid-2020. ALLETE Clean Energy is working to re-contract the balance of the Storm Lake I power sales agreements that expire in late 2019.
“ALLETE Clean Energy is consistently building shareholder value as it executes a thoughtful growth strategy,” said Allan S. Rudeck Jr, ALLETE’s president. “Maintaining and enhancing the Lake Benton and Storm Lake sites, along with extending power sales agreements, provide a cost-effective platform to sustain and grow the clean energy American businesses and citizens increasingly expect. Our partnership with Tecsis has been a winning formula, and their wind-turbine blade expertise and knowledge brings great value to us and, ultimately, to our customers.”
ALLETE acquires, develops, and operates clean and renewable energy projects. ALLETE Clean Energy currently owns and operates, in four states, approximately 545 megawatts of nameplate capacity wind energy generation that is contracted under PSAs of various durations. ALLETE Clean Energy also engages in the development of wind energy facilities to operate under long-term PSAs or for sale to others upon completion.