Minnesota Approves a 78 MW wind farm in Goodhue

Minnesota state regulators have given the necessary approvals to allow development of a 78-megawatt Minnesota wind power project near Goodhue, MN, that backers say will help the state meet its renewable energy goals and further economic development efforts locally.

Development of the wind energy project is being spearheaded by the American Wind Alliance (AWA), a joint venture founded by Mesa Power Group LLC with the support of General Electric.

Mesa Power Group was started by legendary energy executive T. Boone Pickens, one of the nation’s most visible proponents of renewable energy, in particular, wind energy. AWA was formed to drive continued growth in the wind industry.

To date, AWA has reached agreement on seven other wind power project transactions totaling more than 750 megawatts— four in Ontario, Canada, and one each in Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri.

The Minnesota Public Utility Commission gave AWA the go-ahead on the Goodhue initiative in a recent approval of the project’s purchase power agreement, draft site permit and its structure as a community-based project.

Mesa Power, as an owner of the Goodhue wind project, is helping finance the project and is also supplying the project with 52 GE wind turbines. The project encompasses 12,000 acres and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 31,000 to 70,000 homes.

AWA expects to award a construction contract to a Minnesota-based firm in the coming weeks with a goal of breaking ground in the fourth quarter, and delivering power by late 2011. Northern States Power Company, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc., has signed an agreement to buy the project’s electricity.