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MDU buys expansion of SW ND wind farm

Bismarck-based Montana Dakota Utilities is buying an expansion of a wind farm in southwestern North Dakota.

MDU already owns the Thunder Spirit Wind Farm – first phase. It’s a 107.5 megawatt farm with 43 turbines. Allete Clean Energy developed it, and is developing the second phase, which will add another 16 turbines, and produce another 48 megawatts.

MDU had a power purchase agreement with an option to buy it outright.

MDU spokesman Mark Hanson said the purchase of the expansion project makes sense – and should save MDU electric customers money, versus buying energy on the open market.

"We have everything in place, and that became a really good low-cost optiion for our customers," Hanson said.

Hanson said this will help meet a growing demand for power.

"Our demand has been increasing one to two percent per year," Hanson said.

With that purchase, the renewable portion of MDU’s portfolio goes from 22 percent to 27 percent.

Construction will begin on the expansion this spring, and should be on-line by late this year. The cost is $85 million.

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