MP wind energy shipments unload in Duluth
May 16, 2012
The first of four shipments of components for Minnesota Power’s rapidly-expanding Bison Wind Energy Center in North Dakota will be unloaded in Duluth this week.
Minnesota Power is stepping up its construction of wind-powered generation this summer by building Bison 2 and 3 near the Bison 1 wind farm it commissioned near New Salem, N.D. early in 2012.
Constructed in Denmark by Siemens Wind Power, the hubs, nacelles and power units will be hoisted by crane off the Americaborg beginning Thursday at the Duluth Seaway Port Terminal.
“We’re perfectly positioned to receive this wind energy equipment here at the country’s finest inland port,” said Minnesota Power Chief Operating Officer Brad Oachs. “Our company is also well positioned to harness the excellent wind resource in North Dakota and bring the renewable energy to our customers.”
A Netherlands-flagged cargo ship built in 2007; the 469-foot Americaborg entered the Duluth Port on Tuesday loaded with renewable energy equipment destined for Bison 2. As this summer proceeds, three other cargo ships will bring wind energy equipment slated for Bison 3. The two phases of the project are being built simultaneously on the wind-rich plains of central North Dakota.
In 2010 and 2011, Minnesota Power and its primary contractor, Siemens, assembled the 31 turbine-topped towers that make up the 82-megawatt (MW) Bison 1 wind farm. This year, the Duluth-based electric utility is “doubling down” by erecting 70 towers fitted with new 3-MW direct-drive turbines manufactured by Siemens.
The accelerated timetable is largely due to the scheduled expiration of a production tax credit on wind equipment at the end of 2012. Last year, the first shipment of wind turbine equipment bound for North Dakota didn’t sail through Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge until Sept. 8.
Minnesota Power and Siemens are working to have Bison 2 and 3 completed and commissioned by the end of 2012.
Favorable winter and spring weather in 2012 needed to lay cable, build roads and pour foundations has kept the project on target.
All roads needed for Bison 2 are now complete, and most of the 35 foundations have been poured. Each wind tower foundation requires about 50 truckloads of concrete. At nearby Bison 3, nearly half of the roads have been graveled and cable is being installed. Work is proceeding on construction of an electric substation. There are more than 200 contract employees at work on the construction site.