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ALLETE seeks approval to add 510 MW of wind, solar, gas capacity

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ALLETE seeks approval to add 510 MW of wind, solar, gas capacity

Minnesota Power Inc. has filed its resource plan with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that calls for adding 510 MW of wind, solar and natural gas-fired power capacity.

In its July 28 filing, the ALLETE Inc. subsidiary is seeking approval for a 250-MW wind power purchase agreement, a-10 MW solar energy PPA and 250 MW of natural gas-fired generation. "This resource package is the next step in Minnesota Power's EnergyForward strategic plan," ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik said in an Aug. 2 earnings release.

Minnesota Power will buy the wind capacity from Tenaska Energy Inc.'s planned Nobles 2 Power Partners facility under a 20-year contract and the solar capacity from Cypress Creek Renewables LLC's planned Royaltont project under a 25-year contract. Nobles 2 is expected to come online in December 2019 and Royalton is expected to enter operations by 2019.

Minnesota Power is seeking to procure 250 MW of capacity from a planned 525-MW to 550-MW natural gas-fired facility in Superior, Wis. The company plans to build the combined-cycle project in partnership with Dairyland Power Cooperative under a joint ownership structure. The planned Nemadji Trail Energy Center is expected to go online in 2024.

The utility also filed to delay the filing deadline of its next integrated resource plan to February 2019.

On the earnings front, ALLETE reported second-quarter net income attributable to the company of $36.9 million, or 72 cents per share, up from $24.8 million, or 50 cents per share in the same period of 2016.

The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for the second quarter was 55 cents.

Net income from ALLETE's regulated operations segment, which includes Minnesota Power, Superior Water Light and Power Co. and ALLETE's investment in the American Transmission Co. LLC, was $32.4 million, an increase from $22.6 million a year ago. The $9.8 million year-over-year increase was attributed to higher net income at Minnesota Power resulting from the implementation of interim retail rates and higher sales to industrial customers.

ALLETE Clean Energy contributed $3.8 million towards second-quarter net income, compared with $2.6 million in the comparable quarter of 2016. U.S. Water Services Inc. recorded a drop in second-quarter net income to $600,000, from $1.0 million a year ago, primarily due to higher operating costs of waste treatment and water safety applications.

Operating revenue for the quarter totaled $353.3 million, compared with $314.8 million in the corresponding quarter of 2016. The company reported operating income for the quarter of $55 million, up from $42.2 million in the 2016 quarter.