Photo credit: Kevin Jeffrey
Tracy Warren, NRECA
Phone: (703) 907-5746
Mobile: (703) 517-3411
Arlington, VA; March 28, 2011 — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the Cooperative Research Network (CRN) recently named Minnkota Power Cooperative as the 2010 Wind Cooperative of the Year. The award was presented at the NRECA TechAdvantage Expo 2011 in Orlando, Fla. on March 10.
Minnkota Power Cooperative, a generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative that serves cooperatives in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, was recognized for its leadership and demonstrated success in developing an innovative wind power program. According to DOE's “2008 Wind Technologies Market Report," Minnkota led the nation with the highest percentage of retail sales powered by wind.
In 2002, Minnkota installed a 900-kW turbine in Valley City, N.D. to assist its members comply with new Minnesota legislation requiring utilities serving loads within the state to offer consumers a green power option. The turbine was North Dakota's first utility-owned wind turbine, and the Infinity Wind Energy program it supplies has more than 2,000 subscribers to date. Minnkota soon installed a second turbine.
Minnkota further expanded its wind energy offerings by negotiating cost-effective power purchase agreements with the wind industry after Minnesota approved a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 2007 requiring utilities to get 25 percent of retail electricity sales from eligible renewable resources.
Minnkota's wind holdings have reached 357 MW, supplying more than 30 percent of its customers' energy needs. To achieve this success, the cooperative was able to build successful partnerships not only with the wind industry but also with another utility to build the transmission lines necessary for the project.
"Whether a utility buys or builds wind, it's a team effort. Minnkota's wind program has really benefitted from good partnerships," said Al Tschepen, Vice President for planning and system operations at Minnkota.
NRECA and CRN cosponsor the Wind Cooperative of the Year Award program with the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America Program, an initiative of agency's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that is committed to dramatically increasing the use of wind Energy in the United States.