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There are some places in the Midwest where it seems the wind never stops blowing. This abundance makes wind a prime renewable energy resource. At Great River Energy, we purchase the electric output from six wind projects in Minnesota, one in Iowa and one in North Dakota totaling 468 megawatts (MW). In addition, a 166-foot tall, 200-kilowatt wind turbine produces renewable energy for our Platinum LEED-certified headquarters facility in Maple Grove, Minn. The turbine produces approximately 5 percent of the building’s annual energy needs.
Our wind energy comes from several sources:
The Trimont Area Wind Farm is located in southwestern Minnesota near one of our natural gas-fired peaking plants – Lakefield Junction Station. It’s important to note that only 1 to 2 percent of those 8,900 acres is impacted by the wind farm. The farmland underneath the 67 wind turbines is still used for growing corn and soybeans.
The project is equipped with 67 General Electric (GE Wind) 1.5 MW turbines. Each turbine is 262 feet high at the tower’s hub, from which rotors 254 feet in diameter spin. The total capacity of the 67 turbines is 100 MW of wind energy annually. Iberdrola Renewables owns and operates the Trimont Area Wind Farm, and we’ve purchased the output since the wind farm began operations in November 2005.
Prairie Star Wind Farm, built in 2007, is located 15 miles southeast of Austin, Minnesota in Mower County. This project site includes approximately 16,000 acres of privately owned land. The land is primarily used to grow corn and soybean crops. Farming proceeds as usual on most of the land around the turbines.
The 61 wind turbines (1.65 MW each) are capable of producing 100 MW of power. The Vesta turbines are 265 feet high at the hub, with 263-foot rotors. Horizon Wind Energy is the owner and developer of Prairie Star Wind Farm. We began purchasing the facilities’ output in January 2008.
The 100-MW Elm Creek Wind Power Project is located near the Trimont Area Wind Farm in Trimont, Minnesota. Elm Creek provides electricity to more than 29,000 homes served by our member cooperatives. The project encompasses about 9,554 acres of land leased from 56 local corn and soybean farmers. The land continues to be used for corn and soybean farming.
The project is equipped with 66 General Electric (GE Wind) 1.5-MW wind turbines. Each turbine is 384 feet high at the tower’s hub, from which rotors 253 feet in diameter spin. Iberdrola Renewables owns and operates the Elm Creek Wind Farm. Great River Energy has purchased the wind farm’s output since it began operations in November 2008.
Great River Energy purchases 51 MW from the Ashtabula II Wind Energy Center in eastern North Dakota, under a 30-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources.
Located in Griggs and Steele counties, the Ashtabula II Wind Energy Center consists of 80 1.5-MW GE XLE turbines for a nameplate capacity of 120 MW, of which we purchase 51 MW of output. Great River Energy began receiving power from the facility in August 2010.
Great River Energy purchases 100 MW from the Endeavor I Wind Energy Center in northwest Iowa. Located in Osceola County, the Endeavor I Wind Energy Center consists of 40 2.5-MW Clipper Liberty turbines for a nameplate capacity of 100 MW. We began receiving power from the facility in April 2011 under a 30-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources.
We also purchase an additional 18 MW of wind energy from three projects located in Chandler, Minnesota; Dodge Center, Minnesota, and Jackson County, Minnesota.
Great River Energy and our member cooperatives offer the popular Wellspring wind energy program. Through the program, customers may choose to buy additional wind energy for a nominal monthly fee. Approximately 5,600 co-op members purchase Wellspring renewable energy. To purchase Wellspring renewable energy, contact your local electric cooperative.
Currently, wind energy for the Wellspring program comes from the Chandler Hills Wind Farm, the Trimont Area Wind Farm and the G. McNeilus Wind Farm.