Montana-Dakota Utilities Buys Wind Energy

This wind power project consists of 43 turbines producing just over 107 megawatts of electricity.

Allete Clean Energy is developing the project. It’s expected to be completed by December 2015.

MDU is paying about $200 million for the Thunder Spirit Wind project is located on the North Dakota-South Dakota border.

Originally MDU had a contract to purchase electricity generated from the wind farm.


MDU spokesman Mark Hanson says the company later decided to purchase the project.

“As we look to meet our growing demand we look at generation options and this was a good project that will provide needed capacity for our customers at a good price.”

Hanson says MDU is projecting a 5% increase in electricity demand over the next 5 years because of a strong economy across its service territory.

MDU serves over one-million electric and natural gas customers across 8 states, including Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. He says while MDU isn’t providing electricity directly to the wells in the Bakken, it does provide power to residential and commercial customers. This includes nearly 26-thousand electricity customers in Montana.

Hanson says MDU considered the possibility of a new coal generation facility to meet that projected demand, but decided that really wasn’t an option. This wind project, however, was,for many reasons.

“This was a good project that’s within our service territory, it didn’t require a lot of upgrades to connect to the system, and so overall to meet our growing demand  it was good project to enter into,” Hanson said.

MDU already owns two wind generation projects, one in southwest North Dakota, the other in eastern Montana near Baker.

Hanson says these wind farms along with electricity produced as part of a heat recovery system brings MDU’s renewable energy portfolio to about 20%.