Minnesota Power Seeks To Beef Up Renewables Portfolio

Under a proposed new step in its EnergyForward strategy, which aims to ensure a “safe, reliable and competitive energy supply,” Minnesota Power, a utility division of ALLETE, is seeking to grow its 620 MW wind portfolio and double its solar generation.

In an upcoming filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), Minnesota Power will request an additional 250 MW of wind capacity, 10 MW of solar capacity and 250 MW of combined-cycle natural gas generation in order to meet customer demand for power, which is projected to grow throughout the region, says the utility, which provides electricity within a 26,000-square-mile area in northeastern Minnesota.

With MPUC approval of the proposed resource package, renewable energy resources – including wind, Canadian hydro, solar and biomass – would account for 44% of the utility’s energy supply by 2025 and exceed its initial EnergyForward goal of one-third renewable power. Minnesota Power says its long-term goal is an energy mix of two-thirds renewable energy and renewable-enabling natural gas and one-third environmentally compliant baseload coal.

Al Hodnik, ALLETE’s chairman, president and CEO, states in a press release that the $350 million investment would “further balance Minnesota Power’s energy mix while contributing meaningful growth for ALLETE’s shareholders.”

Minnesota Power says it already is meeting or exceeding state standards for renewable power, energy conservation and carbon-emission reduction through a fleet transition of smaller coal units and the addition of renewable energy. The company has also already achieved a 25% renewable energy mix well ahead of Minnesota’s goal of 25% by 2025.

Minnesota Power plans to seek MPUC approval later this summer. State regulators will then open a formal review process to consider the request, and a final determination is expected in the latter half of 2018, the utility says.


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