Wind Power Wilts in Wisconsin, Surges in North Dakota

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minnesota power will build wind farm in north dakotaWisconsin might have the luxury of turning down opportunities to create new green jobs in the wind power industry, but North Dakota isn’t taking any chances. North Dakota’s wind industry is taking off, and the latest addition is a $157 million, 105 megawatt wind farm in Oliver and Morton counties. The new wind farm is being developed by out-of-state utility Minnesota Power, which has already invested heavily in North Dakota wind. The company anticipates that electricity from the plant will be cost-competitive. It is also applying for a cost recovery allowance, so its customers in northeastern Minnesota may actually see their costs go down after the project goes on line late in 2012. Yes, down.

New High Tech Wind Turbines for North Dakota

The new project will consist of 35 direct drive wind turbines supplied by Siemens Energy. Partly because it eschews a gearbox, direct drive technology involves only about half the moving parts of a conventional turbine, which helps cut down on maintenance and repair costs. Direct drive also enables the turbine to operate more efficiently in low winds. The unit is relatively small, helping to cut down on shipping costs. The technology is fairly new – the first prototypes have only been in operation for about a year – but Siemens is already planning a larger 6-megawatt version that could be used in offshore wind farms, and it has also introduced a gearless wind turbine designed specifically for low-to-moderate wind speeds.

Green Jobs and Wind Power

During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign in Wisconsin, the winning candidate had a vision of (1) creating 250,000 new jobs in whatever any field, apparently so long as the new jobs had (2) nothing to do with establishing state environmental policies that would help give Wisconsinites more access to clean energy. That’s a bit of a screwy agenda to begin with (seriously, what’s there to hate about clean energy, especially when it creates new jobs?), but at least so far the new governor is well on his way to coming through on item #2. Maybe some politicians get a bad rap for not keeping their promises, but at least this guy gets halfway there and that’s something, right?

Image: North Dakota wind farm by thalling 55 on

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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