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Published on August 7th, 2012 | by Adam Johnston


GE, Enel Green Power To Build One of the Largest Minnesota Wind Farms

August 7th, 2012 by  

General Electric (GE) and Enel Green Power North America are teaming up to build one of the biggest wind farms in the state of Minnesota.

Wind Turbine near Lake Benton, Minnesota

GE will commit $156 million in capital, or about 51% ownership stake in the project, which will see the 200 megawatt (MW) Prairie Rose project use GE made turbines, according to a statement released by GE.

Enel Green Power will commit a 49% ownership share, approximately $149 million in capital, and oversee the farm as project manager.

Meanwhile, both Enel Green Power and GE raised about $190 million in tax equity from a syndicate headed by J.P. Morgan. When the project is completed, the tax equity will be invested and cut both GE and Enel Green Power’s stake in the wind project. Other companies in the syndicate include Wells Fargo Wind Holdings LLC and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

The new project will help boost the local economy, creating 300 construction jobs, while creating close to 12 permanent jobs, and bringing approximately $850,000 annually in local tax revenue.

On the environmental side, the wind farm will take 650,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually out of the atmosphere, while providing enough power to support 75,000 homes.

“This transaction showcases GE’s ability to provide both world-class technology and flexible financing structures for our customers and advances our long-term partnership with Enel Green Power, an established renewable energy leader,” Kevin Walsh, Managing Director of Power and Renewable Energy at GE Energy Financial Services, said in a statement.

The cost of the project is around $305 million and will be located near Harwick, Minnesota. Mortensen Construction will oversee the constructing of the wind farm. The project is set for completion by the end of this year. The new wind farm will supply all of its power under a 20-year agreement to Xcel Energy subsidiary Northern States Power Company.

Enel Green Power North American can further its ownership stake in the wind farm, with an option to buy an extra 26% from GE’s share later this year and in 2013.

Source: General Electric
Image Credit: Minnesota Wind Turbine, via Shutterstock

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About the Author

is expected to complete the Professional Development Certificate in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto by December 2017. Adam recently completed his Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College Continuing & Online Learning. Adam also graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications in 2011. Adam owns a part-time tax preparation business. He also recently started up Salay Consulting and Social Media services, a part-time business which provides cleantech writing, analysis, and social media services. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or check out his business www.salayconsultiing.com.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Adam and Ronald – here’s a couple of tools you might not know about.  

    First, an excellent database that gives information about capacity, LCOE and all other sorts of good information about energy.Median capacity for wind in the US is 40.35% and it can run as high as 50.6%.  Most likely newer installations are running higher than the median which is likely pulled down by older, less efficient units.Some US wind farms are now producing at $0.04/kWh.  That number does not include subsidies.http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/ Then, here’s a great LCOE calculator.  If you know cost/watt, capacity, and a few other facts you can quickly gen the cost per kWh.http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html 

    • Thanks, Bob for the link. 

    • Thanks for the link.  Is there already a significant amount of wind power in the Minnesota area?  If so the capacity of the wind farm is likey to be higher than if wind power is fairly new to the area. 

      • Or maybe not if it even if it is new, as people are capable of learning from experience and planning ahead.  Or so I have heard.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I think it’s likely to be higher everywhere. Back in the early days it was a “one size fits all” industry. Towers in many places were shorter than they often now are. Now turbines are generally up higher into stronger and cleaner wind. But in other places better site evaluation has found that the best wind is closer to the ground.

        Then we’re seeing turbines/blades designed for sites. Places where the wind might not blow strong but it is steady are being fitted with larger/longer blades than would be used in a location with stronger winds.
        We’ve seen better blade technology which allows turbines to harvest energy in stronger winds rather than having to be ‘parked’ to protect them.

        All of this is being supported by much better site evaluation equipment and software.

        • At first turbines were make to maximise output but now they are made to maximise revenue.  In somewhere like South Australia there just isn’t a lot of money to be made during periods of strong winds as the installed wind capacity can cause the electricity price to drop fairly low.  This means new turbines are built to take advantage of low wind speeds, even though they may need to shut down during periods of high wind speeds.  Of course wind farms have the option of having most wind turbines optimized for low wind speeds and a small number optimized for high wind speeds so those ones will keep producing in high winds while the others shut down.

  • If it’s $156 million for 51% of the project then that’s about $305 million in total for 200 megawatts, or about $1.53 per watt.  Assuming a 33% capacity rate (and yes, I know it is possible for it to be much higher) then that gives a cost of about $4.60 per average watt of output.  As there are minimal operating costs that’s a very cheap sources of electricity.   In Australia it would produce electricity at under 5 cents a kilowatt-hour.  (Wholesale electricity prices average around 5.5 cents a kilowatt-hour here.)  In the United States I presume it would be even less because of lower costs of capital.

  • Nicholas Hulstrand

    I could not find a Harwick, MN, but there is a Hawick and a Hardwick, and I believe you want the latter.

    • Bill_Woods

       The press release says, “HARDWICK, Minn.,”.

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