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ALLETE Clean Energy to refurbish wind turbines at Minn., Iowa facilities

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ALLETE Clean Energy to refurbish wind turbines at Minn., Iowa facilities

ALLETE Inc. subsidiary ALLETE Clean Energy announced Aug. 2 an initiative to refurbish 385 turbines at three wind farms in Minnesota and Iowa.

The project includes replacing select blades, gearboxes and generators on turbines at the Lake Benton I wind farm and Storm Lake I and Storm Lake II facilities. The process will be undertaken in different stages from 2017 to 2020 to minimize outages and maximize safe energy production.

The turbine refurbishment project follows ALLETE Clean Energy's December 2016 $100 million investment in wind turbine components that meet the standards for the federal production tax credit "safe harbor" provision, the company said.

Additionally, as part of the refurbishment initiative, ALLETE Clean Energy also plans to install a new communications infrastructure at the facilities that includes fiber optic connections, servers, and data acquisition and management systems.

The investment in safe harbor turbines allows ALLETE Clean Energy to pursue a three-pronged production tax credit strategy before the 2020 tax credit phase-out. The strategy includes building and operating new wind farms based on long-term power sale agreements, building wind farms for other companies for a development fee, and refurbishing its existing wind farms while extending power sale agreements.

Lake Benton sells all of its output to Xcel Energy Inc. subsidiary Northern States Power Co. - Minnesota, Storm Lake I supplies complete output to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Co. and Storm Lake II supplies 8.3 MW to Alliant Energy Corp. unit Interstate Power & Light Co.