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Minnesota Power

Duluth, Minnesota

As the electric utility for ALLETE, Inc., Minnesota Power supplies electric service to 144,000 retail customers, 16 municipalities, and some of the largest industrial customers in the U.S. Headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota, the company’s 1,400 employees ensure that affordable, safe, and reliable energy services are provided within a 26,000 square mile area in the northeast section of the state.

Minnesota Power generates its power from a variety of sources – coal, gas, biomass, hydro and wind – in locations from North Dakota to Lake Superior’s North Shore. Nearly 2/3 of their customers are industrial users – US Steel being the largest – along with Cliff Resources and ArcelorMittal, as well as paper manufacturing companies – UPM, Blandin, New Page and Boise; approximately 1/6 are residential; and 1/6 are commercial.

Wind power has been a growing part of the company’s energy supply since 2005 when the mix of renewable energy and coal was 5%/95%. The mix in 2012 is 20%/80%. The newest wind farm is located near New Salem, North Dakota where the company will commission state-of-the-art wind turbines by the end of 2012. The Bison 1 Wind Energy Center was completed in 2011 and Bison 2 and Bison 3, located adjacent to the first installation, will consist of 70 turbines. All told, the three wind farms will supply an additional 300 MW of renewable energy.

“The Port of Duluth/Superior provides Minnesota Power with the most economical way to transport the wind turbine components from Denmark to the wind farms in North Dakota,” explained David J. McMillan, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at ALLETE and Executive Vice President of Minnesota Power. “Our taconite customers ship about 60 million tons of iron ore and general cargo through the port. Additionally, about 650,000 tons of coal is shipped from Superior to our Taconite Harbor Energy Center on an annual basis. Without the multi-modal capability found at the port, we would not be able to meet our renewable energy goals.”

He continued, “The pending federal production tax credits expiration date for wind power equipment has a chilling effect on our further development abilities. Minnesota Power has quadrupled wind power in North Dakota and has more capacity to continue to transmit electricity to our customers. We’d like to see that tax credit extended.”

“Waterborne commerce is critical to the success of our business – from securing the raw materials for power generation to receiving equipment from overseas – the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is the key to our economic viability.”