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ALLETE slated to sell Thunder Spirit wind farm

ALLETE Clean Energy, a subsidiary of ALLETE Inc. announced Thursday its plan to sell the 48-megawatt phase two of the Thunder Spirit wind farm near Hettinger, North Dakota, to Montana-Dakota Utilities.

The approximately $85 million sale is expected to close when ALLETE Clean Energy's development of the site, scheduled to begin in May 2018, is complete later this year.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved MDU's request for an advance determination of prudence in November, noting that electricity produced at the site is expected to be more economical than energy purchased on the market.

In 2014, ALLETE Clean Energy acquired the rights to build the 107-megawatt first phase of Thunder Spirit, which includes 43 turbines and generates enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes. After the project was completed in 2015, ALLETE Clean Energy sold the wind facility to MDU for $200 million, and Montana-Dakota operates the wind farm for its customers.

ALLETE Clean Energy has qualified the project, which brings the Thunder Spirit site to its 155-megawatt permitted capacity, for federal renewable energy production tax credits.

In addition to its development and refurbishment projects, ALLETE Clean Energy owns and operates about 535 megawatts of wind energy generation at facilities in Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

"This sale agreement demonstrates ALLETE Clean Energy's renewable energy development expertise. It also advances the company's multi-pronged growth strategy to expand its clean energy project portfolio by pursuing acquisitions, new projects with long-term power sales agreements, build-transfers and new investments in existing facilities," said Allan S. Rudeck Jr., president of ALLETE Clean Energy. "We're proud to work with MDU to deliver low-cost, carbon free, North Dakota-sourced energy to serve its customers."