This month, construction began on the second Infinity wind generator being built by Minnkota Power Cooperative, our wholesale energy supplier. This wind generator will be identical to the first one built early this year east of Valley City, ND, just off Interstate 29. It is expected the project will be complete and producing power by mid-July.
The second generator is being built in response to a request from Grand Forks Air Force Base. Recent federal legislation appropriated funds to be used by military installations across the country to buy a portion of their energy needs from renewable sources. The cost of producing energy from wind is roughly 3Â¢ per kilowatt-hour more than the cost to generate with coal-fired plants in North Dakota. We pass this added cost onto the customer who in this case is Grand Forks Air Force Base. With the allocation of funds from this legislation, Grand Forks Air Force Base will be purchasing 1,800,000 kilowatt-hours annually of electricity generated with wind.
The generator being constructed will have a maximum output of roughly 900,000 watts per hour. The actual output is, of course, determined by the wind, but on an annual basis, it is expected to generate at an average of 30% maximum capacity. This will provide roughly 2.5 million kilowatt-hours annually. Grand Forks Air Force Base has requested to purchase 100% of this output for the first 20 months, and roughly three-fourths of the output thereafter. The remaining capacity will be available to serve other customers who have signed up to purchase monthly blocks of wind-generated electricity. When the first Infinity generator was built, more people signed up for the program than could be served with the capacity of the generator. Many of these people are on a waiting list until more capacity is available.
The connection between the second Infinity generator and Grand Forks Air Force Base would be more visible if the generator was actually located on or adjacent to the base. However, different sites experience significant difference in wind patterns. ni With this arrangement, Grand Forks Air Force Base, or any other customer for that matter, doesn’t necessarily use the actual electricity generated by wind. Rather, their purchase makes it possible to generate a specific amount of power with wind, which is injected into the electric grid with other generation. In effect, the purchase causes a specific amount of electricity that would have otherwise been generated by other means to be displaced with electricity generated with wind.
If you are traveling on US Highway 2 this summer, you will see the construction on the north side of the highway, about three miles east of Petersburg. If you drive by this site after July 15, you will see the generator in production, weather permitting.