Basin Electric purchases doubled Wilton wind production in North Dakota

As of October 31, the Wilton Wind Energy Center doubled in size. That’s when the last of 33 additional wind turbines were placed into operation, bringing the total number of turbines to 66, and the generating capacity of the wind project to 99 megawatts.

The Wilton Wind Energy Center is owned and operated by NextEra Energy Resources, Juno Beach, Fla. All the electricity produced by the wind power project is purchased by Basin Electric Power Cooperative and combined with the production from its other generating facilities.

The electricity from the wind project goes into the power grid at an existing transmission line owned by the Western Area Power Administration. A 4.4-mile, 230-kilovolt line was constructed in 2005 by Central Power Electric Cooperative, of Minot, N.D., to deliver the electricity from the wind project to the Western transmission line. Central Power owns and maintains the line.

Construction of the first phase of the wind project about four miles southeast of Wilton began in September 2005. Construction of the second phase began in July 2009.

North Dakota is the number one wind resource state in the nation. “Since 2005, Basin Electric has been a leader in helping to develop this resource for producing electricity,” said Ron Harper, Basin Electric’s CEO and general manager. “As a power supplier for our member systems, it’s prudent for us to have this renewable energy as part of our generation mix.”

During the 2005 annual meeting, Basin Electric’s members passed a resolution requiring that 10 percent of their electricity demand be provided from renewable resources. “Our owners have directed Basin Electric to develop renewable resources, and that’s what we’re doing,” Harper said.

Harper said Basin Electric and NextEra have developed several wind farms in the Dakotas. “It’s the result of a dual commitment,” he said. “It’s a commitment by Basin Electric to purchase the renewable energy and a commitment by NextEra to develop the resources.” In addition to the Wilton wind project, Basin Electric purchases electricity from NextEra wind projects near Edgeley/Kulm, N.D. and Highmore, S.D. NextEra is developing another wind project in Day County, S.D., that Basin Electric will also purchase the electricity.

Basin Electric is also developing two other wind projects independent of the NextEra relationship. These projects will be owned and operated by a Basin Electric subsidiary. One near Minot, N.D., is under construction and scheduled to be operational at the end of this year; another in the southeast part of South Dakota is in the planning and permitting stages. When the South Dakota project is completed, Basin Electric will have more than 600 megawatts of generating capacity from wind resources.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative headquartered in Bismarck, N.D. It generates and transmits electricity to 136 member rural electric systems in nine states: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These member systems distribute electricity to about 2.8 million consumers.

Basin Electric’s generating resources include: two coal-based power plants in North Dakota – the Antelope Valley Station, Beulah, and the Leland Olds Station, Stanton; a coal-based power plant in Wyoming – the Laramie River Station, Wheatland; three peaking stations – the Spirit Mound Station, Vermillion, S.D.; the Groton Generation Station Groton, S.D., and the Wisdom Unit 2 Station, Spencer, Iowa; nine combustion-turbine generators (natural gas) in the Gillette, Wyo., area; four wind turbines – two near Minot, N.D., and two near Chamberlain, S.D.; and 80 wind turbines near Minot, N.D. (2010).

Basin Electric is also the sole purchaser of electricity from sources operated by others including: seven baseload waste-heat stations owned and operated by Ormat Technologies Inc. along the Northern Border Pipeline; the output of three wind farms owned and operated by NextEra Energy Resources, Juno Beach, Fla. (These wind farms are located near Wilton and Edgeley/Kulm, N.D.; the other is near Highmore, S.D.)

Basin Electric has long-term, purchase power agreements of varying capacities from the George Neal Station Unit 4 (coal-based), Sioux City, Iowa, operated by MidAmerican Energy; the Walter Scott, Jr. Energy Center (coal-based) units 3 and 4, Council Bluffs, Iowa, operated by MidAmerican Energy; the Wisdom Station (coal based), Spencer, Iowa, operated by Corn Belt Power Cooperative; peaking stations located in Spencer, Estherville, Pocahontas, and Webster City, Iowa; the Duane Arnold Energy Center (nuclear), Cedar Rapids, Iowa, operated by NextEra Energy Resources; the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska; and three Iowa wind farms – near Superior/Lakota, operated by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative; in Hancock County operated by NextEra Energy Resources and in Palo Alto County operated by Crosswind Energy, LLC. For more information, go to