Basin Electric Power Cooperative buying electricity from 2 new wind farms in North Dakota

IndustriesAssociated Press

Basin Electric Power Cooperative has signed deals to buy power from two new wind farms in western North Dakota, the Bismarck-based utility announced Wednesday. Terms have not been disclosed.

Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources is developing the Dickinson Wind Energy Center near Richardton, and Kansas-based Tradewind Energy will be developing the Lindahl Wind Project near Tioga. The Richardton project is expected to be complete by the end of next year and the Tioga project by the end of 2016. The combined generating capacity is 300 megawatts, enough to power about 300,000 homes.

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Basin Electric supplies electricity to 137 rural electric systems in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Those member systems distribute electricity to about 2.8 million consumers.

Basin last year signed contracts to buy power from wind farms near Hebron and Golden Valley in North Dakota and from a farm in South Dakota's Campbell County. Those contracts and the ones entered into this year will bring the renewable energy portion of Basin's generating portfolio to more than 1,400 megawatts, CEO and General Manager Paul Sukut said.

Basin has the capacity to have 13 percent of its power generated through renewable means, including wind. By the end of 2016, the number will jump to nearly 22 percent, according to spokeswoman Mary Miller. Most of Basin's capacity comes from coal.

"As we develop plans to meet our members' energy needs, we have not discounted any options that will help keep our member rates low," Sukut said in a statement. "These additional wind purchase opportunities fit nicely into our existing generation portfolio."

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