North Dakota

Minnesota Transmission Line to Carry Wind Energy

ST. PAUL, MN, April 16, 2009 — The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MN PUC) has granted the CapX2020 utilities a Certificate of Need to construct three 345-kilovolt electric transmission lines in Minnesota. The three lines will run from Fargo, SD to Monticello, MN; from Hampton, MN  through Rochester, MN to La Crosse, WI; and from Brookings, SD to Hampton, MN.


CapX2020 is a joint project of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region led by Great River Energy and Xcel Energy to expand the electric transmission grid. "Today's decision provides direction for new transmission that will ensure customers in and near Minnesota will continue to receive reliable electricity and help provide capacity to meet the nation's most aggressive renewable energy standard," said Terry Grove of Great River Energy.As part of its decision the MN PUC required that 700 megawatts of capacity on the Brookings-Hampton line to be reserved for renewable energy, which will allow electricity generated by wind farms in the Buffalo Ridge area of southwestern Minnesota to be transmitted to the Twin Cities area. Moreover, all will be capable for double circuit transmission lines to allow for increased capacity over time.

Some environmentalists opposed the certificate of need, and other critics were concerned that the transmission lines favor existing large power plants over smaller renewable energy sources that would benefit from a different transmission grid infrastructure that was more widely distributed. The MN PUC decision was a compromise between the various propronents and opponents of the project, and it will have an impact on the ability to connect wind farms to the transmission grid in the Midwest.

“It's clear that significant transmission will be needed to reach Minnesota's Renewable Energy Standard,” commented Beth Soholt, director of Wind on the Wires, “and the Commission took an important step in granting the utilities the ability to construct the pieces of the transmission system that will deliver renewables to Minnesotans.”

The MN PUC has yet to decide on the lines’ routes, with Route Permit applications currently under state review or in development, and decisions are expected in 2010. Regulatory processes are still pending for line segments in Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota; while an additional transmission line has been proposed between Bemidji and Grand Rapids. Construction of the lines could begin in 2012 and take several years to complete.

Sacred Heart Monastery, Richardton, ND: Community Wind Project

On June 16, 1997, Sacred Heart Monastery began producing electricity from wind turbines.  They had installed two, used Silver Eagle wind turbines with Micon internal workings. At the time they ventured into this project, just about everyone told them it was a “bad” idea.

This story is chronicalled on the The Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery Website

NEW ENERGY television program now available on DVD

NEW ENERGY: A fresh look at how the Midwest is creating a green energy economy

Windustry has partnered with Twin Cities Public Television and Erika Johnson to tell the story of how wind, biofuels, and other renewable energy technologies are contributing to the region’s energy security, economic sustainability, and integrity of our natural resources.

NEW ENERGY premiered on Sunday, January 7, 2007 on MN TPT Channel 17, and since then it has appeared on:

WDSE in Duluth/Superior
KWCM Pioneer Public Television in Appleton, MN
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Lakeland Public Television
Prairie Public Television
WTVP in Central Illinois
Milwaukee Public Television in Milwaukee, WI

Contact Windustry if you are a television station interested in showing NEW ENERGY on your station.

DVD Copies Now Available
Contact Windustry

NOTE: NEW ENERGY is configured to be played on a DVD player, and should also start automatically on most computers. If you have trouble playing the program on your computer, make sure your computer has a DVD drive. Start your video player (such as Windows Media Player), and open the DVD through the video player. Please contact Windustry if you have any questions.

About the Program

The Message: Renewable energy technology is more than just good for the environment. Making the choice for renewable energy is an investment that is revitalizing rural areas around our region.

The Midwest is leading the nation’s transition to a cleaner, safer, more stable, and more secure energy system. We will explore the pros and cons of renewable energy and expose common myths surrounding wind, ethanol, energy efficiency, and hydrogen.

The Cast:
NEW ENERGY highlights the success of individuals and companies that are pioneering renewable energy in the Midwest today.

The Sponsors:
NEW ENERGY was made possible by a partnership with Windustry, Twin Cities Public Television, Erika Johnson, and a host of local sponsors who are working hard to continue the growth of renewable energy today.

AgStar Financial Services, ACA
American Sustainable Energy Council
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Carleton College
Center for Energy and the Environment
Concordia Language Village
DAK Renewable Energy, Inc.
DMI Industries
enXco
ePower Synergies
Erika Johnson
GarMar Foundation
Great River Energy
Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation
Minnesota Corn Growers Association
Minnesota Department of Commerce
Minnesota Power
Moorhead Public Service
North Dakota Department of Commerce
North Dakota Farmer's Union
REHAU Inc.
Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency
Southwest Initiative Foundation
Twin Cities Public Television
WindLogics Inc.
Windustry
Xcel Energy

Windustry Newsletter - Fall 2003

Native Americans Breaking Trail for Green Power


“An overnight success that took eight years” is a description often applied to the first Native American owned utility-scale wind turbine by people involved in the project. Officially dedicated in May, the 170 ft 750 kW NEG Micon turbine now stands on a hill above the Rosebud Hotel and Casino in south central South Dakota on the Rosebud Sioux reservation. Patrick Spears (left), Robert Gough (right), Rosebud wind turbine (middle). Photo courtesy of Intertribal COUP.

Wind energy has long been an attractive possibility for tribal communities partly due to simple geography– tribal lands in North Dakota, South Dakota and other Great Plains states happen to include some of the best wind resource areas in the world. However, motivations for pursuing a wind project were much more complex for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Concerns about how electricity generation affects the health of the air, land, water and people, the growing threat of global climate change, and a deep-seated interest in expanding economic opportunities for community members played major roles. And this project is only the beginning. The Rosebud tribe purposefully experimented with models and the planning process for this project with the intention of gaining enough knowledge and experience to make future wind projects, bigger, more efficient and more profitable.

The suggestion that this project was almost deliberately made into a long, challenging process is not hard to believe considering that the original groundwork was laid as far back as 1994, the year the Rosebud Sioux established a Tribal Utility Commission (TUC) to expand their capacity to manage energy issues. At that time the most pressing issue was obtaining an allocation for hydropower electricity from the Western Area Power Administration. (WAPA is a power marketing administration within the U.S. Department of Energy charged with selling and transmitting electricity from federal hydroelectric power plants.). Part of the TUC’s job was to develop an integrated resource plan, which required studying all possible energy sources, both renewable and traditional. This lead to the installation of the first wind-monitoring tower to measure what the tribe already suspected was a promising wind resource. Rosebud turbine under construction. Photo Courtesy of Intertribal COUP.

As many Missouri River basin tribes were facing similar energy issues at that time, a coalition of northern Great Plains tribes chartered the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (Intertribal COUP) to create a common forum for utility policy discussions. Over the next few years, Intertribal COUP focused on WAPA allocations, but also started exploring ways to integrate their own energy resources. Intertribal COUP and the Rosebud TUC began to grow their knowledge base by organizing and hosting a series of meetings and conferences to explore the feasibility of wind power and building connections with groups from other states with more wind experience.

During the process of learning about wind energy possibilities, the Rosebud TUC became a champion of bringing these opportunities home to the Rosebud reservation. Many members of the commission became tireless advocates for both the economic and environmental benefits of wind power. Particularly remembered are the contributions of the late Alex “Little Soldier” Lunderman, the first president of the utility commission for whom the turbine was named at the May dedication. Ronald Neiss, another former utility commission president, told Wind Powering America last year about Lunderman’s vision that continues to guide the commission today: “He believed we could use modern technology as well as our resources in a way that is compatible with our history, our philosophy, and our cultural and spiritual values. With the Rosebud Wind Project, we are trying to make his vision a reality by using the tremendous wind resource on the reservation in a good way.”

This first turbine is a demonstration project that's breaking trail for future, bigger projects.The current TUC President, Rod Bordeaux, sees the growing potential for tribal wind power as a positive direction for Great Plains Tribes, “ Energy has a steep learning curve, but people are beginning to understand where this is going. ”

By the late 1990s, it was clear that the Rosebud Sioux had an excellent wind resource, and an interest in using a clean, renewable, native natural resource to generate power. However, the question of how to finance a large wind energy venture remained. Part of that question was answered in 1999, when Rosebud was the only tribe to receive funding ($508,000, half the cost of the turbine) for a utility scale wind turbine in the Department of Energy’s first round of Tribal Renewable Energy Grants. Soon after receiving the DOE award, the tribe began negotiations with the Rural Utilities Service to borrow money for the rest of the project, which, at the time, had never worked with either tribes or renewable energy. (RUS is a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that makes loans to rural utility service providers.) The effort paid off in 2002 when the Rosebud tribe secured a loan for the second half of the turbine installation costs and a little extra to set up some new wind monitoring stations.

While working on the financing, the TUC also began to tackle other hurdles such as obtaining permission to interconnect the turbine to the power grid and finding a market for the electricity. They used this process explore many markets that could also be viable for future, larger wind projects. Students and teachers gathered at the turbine dedication. Photo courtesy Clean Air- Cool Planet.Among the considerations: working with the owners of the transmission and distribution lines, plugging into the federal market for renewable energy, and the possibility of selling wind energy as premium green electricity.

The result of the extensive negotiations is a multi-faceted arrangement for selling and transmitting the wind turbine’s electricity (see chart). A long-term deal was made to provide electricity directly to the Rosebud Casino, but the contract allows the tribe flexibility to explore other options. For example, for the first few years (up to 5) Rosebud is providing "green power" to Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, SD by coordinating with Basin Electric Power Cooperative, WAPA, and Nebraska Public Power. The tribe is also working with NativeEnergy, a Vermont based company that agreed to buy the remaining lifetime output of green tags from the project. Consumer demand for cleaner electricity has driven the development of a market for the environmental attributes of wind-generated electricity (referred to as green tags) and NativeEnergy has tapped this market by selling green tags from the Rosebud turbine to thousands of individuals and environmentally minded companies such as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, a Rolling Stones climate change concert and a recent Dave Matthews Band tour. A consumer buying green tags can think of it as way to offset pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with their own electricity use. 2003FallNews_chart.gif (62357 bytes)

Gough described this first wind turbine as a learning tool, that is “breaking trail” for more and bigger tribal wind energy projects. While recognizing the pioneering efforts of other Great Plains tribes in smaller scale wind power (such as Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain in North Dakota, the Upper Sioux and White Earth Chippewa, and the Blackfeet in Montana), Patrick Spears, President of Intertribal COUP, said, “Rosebud has taken the lead among tribal nations of the northern plains in realizing the potential of large scale wind energy development. And this turbine is only step one, the next phase of Rosebud’s plan is a 30-50 MW project.”

Rosebud and Intertribal COUP have also joined in developing a road map for an 80 MW project to be distributed in clusters across eight Great Plains reservations. “This project would provide a way for a number of tribes to share the risks and benefits involved of a large wind project to capture the economies of scale necessary to be economically feasible and secure each reservation a place on the WAPA grid as a clean energy generator. Ten megawatts on each reservation would likely be absorbed on the local distribution system, and have little impact on an otherwise constrained transmission grid” noted Gough. To date, four Intertribal COUP tribes have begun the necessary planning and data collection to participate in this effort.

The incentive for Great Plains tribes to pursue wind power goes beyond the great promise of economic development. Wind is an opportunity for tribes to control their own energy resources and the impact of their energy use. Reservations are seen as permanent homelands for tribal communities, and the residents realize that depleting the natural resources is incompatible with that idea. “The Lakota people have always had great respect for the power of the wind,” said Spears, and now they can use that power to produce clean energy and economic development.

MORE INFORMATION Rosebud Wind Project
* NativeEnergy Photos
* First Rosebud Wind Turbine Generates Support: An Interview with Intertribal COUP Secretary Robert Gough- Cultural Survival Quarterly, Fall 2003
* Wind Powering America: Rosebud 750-kW Wind Turbine Installed
* Tribes Find Power in Wind, by Winona LaDuke, YES!, Summer 2003 * Wind Powering America: Wind Stakeholder Interview- Rosebud Reservation
* Rosebud Casino and Hotel

Green Power Markets
* Windustry: Wind Energy Markets
* NativeEnergy- national marketer of renewable energy credits or green tags.
* Green Power Network - Clearinghouse for information on the electric power industry's green power efforts.

Resources for Tribal Wind Energy Projects
* U.S. Department of Energy Tribal Energy Program
* Wind Powering America: Native American Anemometer Loan Program
* Wind Powering America: Case Studies on Native Americans Using Wind Power

Other Resources
* Western Area Power Administration
* U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service
* Basin Electric Power Cooperative
* National Renewable Energy Laboratory: South Dakota Wind Map

WIND ENERGY News
USDA Grants announced
The first round of grant awards for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program was announced August 25, 2003. Over $21 million was awarded for 131 projects in 24 states. Minnesota lead all states with $4,678,632, followed by New York, Illinois, and Ohio. Many grants will support wind projects, including small residential-scale turbines, farmer-owned utility-scale turbines, and rural electric cooperative wind projects. For more information: www.windustry.org/resources/farmbill.htm.

Large farmer project wins bid
In August, Great River Energy announced that it will begin contract negotiations for 100 MW of wind power with Trimont Area Wind Farm, LLC. Trimont Wind is a coalition of local citizens from the project area (south central Minnesota) that answered Great River Energy’s request for proposals to develop a renewable energy supply resource to be ready by 2005. It will be the largest locally owned wind project in the nation. According to GRE, the project was chosen for its competitive price, its access to transmission line interconnections, its location within the coop’s service territory, and its appeal as a locally owned project.

MN Community Wind Rebate
The Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Office announced a new Community Wind Rebate program available to non-taxable entities (such as schools, non-profit organizations, or government units) in Minnesota outside of the southwest portion of the state. Projects can receive rebates of up to $150,000 by applying before the November 13, 2003 deadline. For more information, visit www.windustry.org or contact Mike Taylor at 651-296-6830 or mike.taylor@state.mn.us

WINDUSTRY Updates
WindProject Calculator
The Windustry WindProject Calculator has been updated with new turbines and improved with a more user-friendly format. It is available at www.windustry.org/calculator.

Windustry Grows
The Windustry staff expanded to include Wes Slaymaker who is taking on the role of Windustry Project Engineer. He is a certified professional engineer with more than three years experience developing wind energy projects in the Midwest. He brings a new level of practical and technical expertise to Windustry. Welcome Wes!

WIND ENERGY Workshops/Events
November 11 - 13, 2003 – AWEA Wind Financing Workshop, Palm Springs, CA. Contact the American Wind Energy Association at (202) 383-2500 or visit www.awea.org/seminars.html.
November 14, 2003 – Minnesota's Renewable Energy Research: Status and Opportunities, Brooklyn Center, MN. Presented by Energy Alley. Contact Erik Pratt at 612-334-3388, ext. 102, or visit www.mn-ei.org/ea/research03.html.

About WINDUSTRY
Windustry is a non-profit organization that builds collaborations and provides technical support to create an understanding of wind energy opportunities for economic development. We are partnered with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
WIND FARMERS Network
The Wind Farmers Network is now in development for landowners, communities and others interested in investing in wind energy to exchange information and experiences. Visit www.windustry.org/farmer or contact Windustry for more information or to join the network.

Click on the link below for a pdf version.

Windustry Newsletter - Spring 2001

Kas Brothers Plant 25-Year Cash Crop This Season: Wind Power
From one perspective, Richard and Roger Kas of Woodstock, Minnesota are typical Midwestern farmers who have grown up farming the family land with their father, William Kas. But this family has something unmistakably unique taking place on their farm. They have seventeen modern wind turbines on their land, generating enough electricity to power 4300 households, and they’re about to put up two more. What is even more unique is that the Kas brothers will own these two new commercial-scale wind turbines. This is the first project of its kind in Minnesota, and possibly in the whole Midwest. Kas Brothers Wind Farm

The wind development came about pretty quick in Southwest Minnesota when the legislature mandated that Northern States Power, now called Xcel Energy, contract 425 MW of wind generated electricity by 2002 in exchange for allowing nuclear waste to be stored outside the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant. Landowners signed leases giving the utility and wind development companies rights to put wind turbines on a portion of their land. The Kas family was part of this group of landowners. But they chose their developer carefully.

Roger thought, “I didn’t want my land tied up without a project going on it. Once you sign something you can’t do what you want. “ He felt that, “if someone comes to me and is ready to put a wind project on my land then let’s sit down and talk.” Otherwise he just felt it was a waste of time to tie his land up for two or three or five years on the option agreements. “I don’t know why someone would want to do that. If you have a good wind resource it’s good to be sure that a project will actually go up.”

The first 17 turbines on their land were developed by Dan Juhl of Danmar Associates, and have been up and running for two years. Roger said, “Dan Juhl was here the first. And we talked, but we had an agreement that if someone else came up with a project first and made us a good offer we would go with them. There were no exclusive agreements.”

While Juhl was working to put his project together he kept the Kas family up to date on the different aspects. The process took a long time. It was 1993 when Juhl installed an anemometer tower to measure the wind on the Kas farm. And it was 1999 when the 17 machines were completely installed and producing power. The machines take six acres out of crop production, on the 320 acres or half section. The life of the machines is expected to be about 25 years and power purchase agreement is 25 years.

If a Wind Developer knocks on your door, it's up to you to know the score...

*Consult an attorney on all contracts
*Consider all development options:
* get together with individual landowners and collectively negotiate wind rights for the broad area
* partner with a wind developer
* own and operate a wind farm
* form a value-added wind cooperative
* partner with the electric cooperative or municipal in your region

Roger stayed with it and paid attention to the how the project came together on his land. He may not have had an equity position in the Juhl project, but he certainly had an interest in its success since his wind easement annual payments are based on a percentage of the gross revenue from each machine. “Farming the wind is not right for everyone. We’re here everyday feeding the cattle and taking care of the farm, and we see the wind turbines as just a few more machines for us to take care of.” In that respect, you need to learn about the machines and take care of them just as you need to know how to take care of your crops and livestock. Roger has worked in construction on and off all his life. While Dan Juhl’s project was being installed on the Kas farm, the turbine manufacturer, Vestas hired Roger, for six months to work on construction and machine maintenance. Roger believes that, “If you want to farm the wind, you should have the knowledge of how it all works.”

Over time their business relationship grew and now the Kas brothers and Juhl have completed the planning and financing for a project which the Kas family will own. Juhl led the way on the key pieces to the Kas project like permitting, power purchase agreement, turbine selection and financing. In part because he had done it before and knew the path. But also, to help forge the way for a different type of project - one that is farmer owned and farmer built. Juhl said “This is possible on a small individual scale, but this is a commercial venture, it’s not a hobby.” There is no project without the power purchase agreement (PPA). This is what the capital financing is based on.

They had to give extra information and special attention to the local bankers to bring them along and get them interested in the wind project. It was all new to the lenders. They have put 20% down and 80% was financed with the PPA as the loan guarantee. The multiple years of wind data and Juhl’s project performance were evidence of for the strength of the wind resource. “Every place is going to be different and you have to work it out.” Says Kas. “Some land is better for raising corn and soybeans; some land is better for wheat and other places for rice. In the same way, some land is better for wind.” The wind resource has to justify the capital investment.

Kas knows he is forging the way with his project and knows that some things will be much easier for the next guy to put up a wind project. He insists that “I am not giving anyone any advice now. I can’t give any advice until mine is up and running.”

Wind Farmers Network
The purpose for the Wind Farmer Network is to bring together a broad range of landowners, farmers and ranchers to exchange their experiences in wind development and to educate others who would like to begin farming the wind. If you would like to join the network, please send your contact information and a brief sentence describing your wind energy interests to Windustry. Your information may be shared with other wind farmers within the network only.

Wind Farmers Network Online
The Windustry website now hosts a section called “Wind Farmer Feedback” in which wind farmers and potential wind farmers from around the country can share their ideas, questions, concerns, and advice. Please post your thoughts at www.windustry.org/farmer.

South Dakota has Wind Power
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Energy Project broke ground early this spring for a single 750 kW turbine expected to be on line by the end of the summer. The Rosebud Casino and Convention Center will be the main customer of the wind generated electricity. The excess power will be available through a "green tag" program which still has green power available for subscription. Contact: Bob Gough, ICOUP, 303-492-3125, Rpwgough@aol.com

East River Electric Coop offers the Prairie Winds program.
Members can choose to subscribe to wind generated electricity by paying a green premium. Basin Electric Power Cooperative will own the project and market any power that is not subscribed by East River. The project is expected to start producing power this October. The two 1.3MW Nordex turbines will be located two miles north of Chamberlain. Contact: Dan Ziebarth at East River Coop, 605-256-4536 or ziebarth@erepc.com

Amazing News from North Dakota
Congratulations go to North Dakotans for their grassroots support of wind power as three new bills supporting wind energy development were recently signed into law. This is a great comeback after the 1999 session, where there was not enough support for even a wind study. The bills are: 1) Personal Property Tax Reduction - puts wind farm owners on par with ND lignite-fired plants and with neighboring states. 2) Income Tax Incentive - a reduction on ND income tax of 3% per year for 5 years, of the installed cost of a wind farm. 3) Sales and Use Tax Exemption - applies to wind generating equipment installed in ND. Contact: Look at 2001 legislation, www.discoverND.com

Colorado PUC Points to Wind
In March, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission formally directed Xcel Energy to add a wind power project to its resource plan. After public hearings and testimony, the PUC decided that the wind plant was more cost-effective when compared to natural gas-fired generation. Wind energy beat natural gas on economics alone. The PUC ordered Xcel to enter negotiations for a 162 MW wind power plant to be located near Lamar, Colorado. Contact: Colorado PUC website, www.dora.state.co.us/puc/new.htm#dated .

Click on the link below for a pdf version.

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