Minnesota Power investing in more wind power

  • Article by: David Shaffer , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 1, 2013 - 9:10 PM

With the addition of another wind farm in North Dakota, the Duluth-based utility expects to meet its mandate 10 years early.

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tea5Aug. 1, 1311:59 AM

It would be nice if they weren't so ugly across the landscape and if they could actually pay for themselves without tax payer money! I'm in favor of "green energy" as long as it makes economic sense. Plus there is still debate on whether these monster wind turbines can change regional weather patterns and if they have some responsibility in the drought hit areas where there are a ton of them dotting the countryside. It would be nice to have more scientific data on this.

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FrankLAug. 1, 1312:52 PM

This law isn't about renewable energy, it is a ratepayer subsidization of wind turbines and photocells. If it was truly about generating more renewable energy, it would also count hydro power, which happens to be the cheapest and most reliable source of renewable energy. Hydro power can not be included as part of the company's goal.

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imkirokAug. 1, 13 1:15 PM

I actually think they look pretty cool, and they are definitely better to look at than a huge smoke stack spewing carbon dioxide and mercury. And the costs are actually competitive with coal, especially for peak power. Let's not forget that traditional energy sources like nukes, coal and gas have also been heavily subsidized.

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guffmanAug. 1, 13 2:43 PM

Another silly idea by those who wish to control everyone else's standard of living. Wind power, at its BEST, is unreliable and overly costly. It has severe limits on conditions in which it can operate. only works part of the time and consumes thousands of acres of space with unsightly giant monuments that kill wildlife and cause disruptions to communities. Sad. Crazy. Dumb.

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jd55604Aug. 1, 13 4:58 PM

By "investing" they mean jacking up the rates of captive customers who have no choice in the matter in order to build obsolete/unprofitable windmills that no one in the private sector would touch with a 10 foot pole. The left views investing as taking your money against your will and parceling it to politically influential constituencies that assist them in their elections.

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brotherkennyAug. 1, 13 6:50 PM

The key for making solar and wind an even larger proportion of our energy production is storage. Most energy storage is expensive however, and while the costs of these technologies may come down (actually, they almost certainly will), there is one method that is cost effective. This method is called "pumped hydro". This is where the electricity is stored as potential energy in hydroelectric dams. The electricity produced by wind is use to pump water behind a dam where it can then be returned to electricity using a turbine when demand requires it. This makes wind usable whenever, on demand. It's often stated that there is no additional hydroelectric available since it is argued that most of the good hydroelectric sites have been developed already. This wind/hydro process changes that. Unfortunately projects of this size require government action and that not possible given our seriously inept leaders. On a side note, I understand why places like Texas and West Virginia and North Dakota hate wind and love fossil fuels, but I can't understand why so many Minnesotans agree with them. We always speak about the US being energy independent but why should the states be any different? Is it good to be dependent on Texas. Why wouldn't any state want to be more self sufficient? It makes no sense not to be. I guess, the GOP love their oil companies and the DFL wants us all to be one big happy US family, so we can't support that local initiative stuff. Personally, I consider places like Texas permanent drains on our national economy. Indeed, they are one of the states that takes way more in federal benefits than they supply in tax revenues. I guess as part of the family, they're our lazy unemployed brother-in-laws.

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ruphinaAug. 2, 13 8:24 AM

The current 200 mw farm plus the new 200 mw farm will produce about 800 million kwh of usable energy a year, taxpayers will be on the hook for a $17.6 million annual federal tax subsidy for 10 years. Nationally, we added 13,000 mw last year, this year is expected to be more. Just matching last year, federal taxpayers will be on the hook for $572M for 2012 for 10 years, and the same for 2013. Estimates are that the rate subsidy will cost an additional $50 BILLION before it runs out, if it isn't renewed. But then, the users will be on the hook for that extra 2.2 cents per kwh. Any bets we will just see an ever-increasing bill for this subsidy passed by a Congress eager to give away other peoples money to get re-elected until the poor start to demand free electricity as a right? We make lots of noise about reducing our use, but subsidizing electricity to make it cheaper is counterproductive. Bill G.

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sunspotsAug. 2, 1310:03 AM

To those who say these "look cool" I would bet you don't live near a wind farm or may have never seen one other than in the newspaper pictures. Take drive at night down to Interstate 90 and you will see blinking red lights in unison from horizon to horizon. These are a huge eyesore that cover square miles of land as well as a huge expansion in transmission lines to take the very spread out power generation and get it delivered somewhere useful. These farms also require peaking plants to supplement power to make sure our refrigerators and AC stay on when the wind stops. Those in favor of wind I can bet would fight to keep them out of their neighborhood.

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motAug. 2, 1310:37 AM

Energy stories really bring out the best in Minnesotans. These commentators, save one, are hanging on to the last strings of denial about the change that is eventual. Wind is cheap, but we hate that cause it is ugly? Oh please.

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sunspotsAug. 2, 1311:38 AM

Wind is cheap when subsidized with taxpayer dollars and mandatory cost adders per ratepayer making our monthly utility bill higher than otherwise needed. The wind "costs" also need to include the required backup and grid connection costs so that when the wind stops, which it can do for long periods of time, we can keep the power on. Backup plants, generally natural gas peaking plants are a large cost that should be included in the cost of wind power. Without a cost effective storage mechanism, wind is a highly variable and costly form of generation requiring hundreds of square miles of land area.

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