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Missouri River Energy dedicates wind energy project

Missouri River Energy Services -- which provides power to Detroit Lakes -- held dedication ceremonies May 29 for a wind energy project near Marshall.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who spoke at the event, congratulated the project developers and MRES on the successful completion of the project and called for Americanization of the region's and the nation's energy program and a diversification of its energy portfolio.

Other speakers included State Rep. Marty Seifert, State Sen. Dennis Frederickson, and a representative from the office of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, as well as representatives of MRES; project developer Geronimo Wind Energy of Edina, Minn.; and general construction contractor John Deere Energy of Johnston, Iowa.

The Marshall project consists of nine wind turbines capable of producing 18.7 megawatts of energy. The energy produced at the site could power about 6,500 homes.

MRES will purchase all of the energy produced by the Marshall project as well as from another wind generation project near Odin, Minn. The Odin project, slated to go online in June, will feature 10 two-megawatt wind turbines.

Geronimo Wind Energy also is the developer of the Odin Project, while Edison Mission Energy of Irvine, Cal., is the general construction contractor.

"Developing wind is a very important part of our plan to meet our members' future energy needs," said MRES CEO Tom Heller. "The Marshall Project along with Odin and our existing wind generation at Worthington, Minn., will get us to nearly 12.5 percent of our Minnesota sales being provided by wind energy in 2009."

The State of Minnesota has established a renewable energy standard calling for utilities to derive 25 percent of the energy they sell in the state from renewable sources such as wind by the year 2025.

Both the Marshall and Odin projects qualify for the Minnesota's Community-Based Energy Development program (C-BED), which Pawlenty recommended and the Legislature established in 2007 to optimize local, regional, and state benefits from renewable energy development and to facilitate widespread development of community-based renewable energy projects throughout the state.

The Marshall project is the state's second approved C-BED project. The Odin project will be the state's third C-BED project and will be the largest to date.

"Gov. Pawlenty has set a goal of 800 megawatts of C-BED in the state by 2010," Heller said. "The MRES share of this goal is a little over 10 megawatts. With the Marshall and Odin Projects, we will be over three times our share of C-BED.

Gov. Pawlenty explained that the C-BED program allows citizens to be entrepreneurs with ownership in these projects. He also said projects such as these will bring capital investments back to Greater Minnesota.

MRES provides wholesale electricity and energy-related services to its 60 member municipalities in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Each MRES member owns and operates a local electric distribution utility.