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Fast-ramping new Minnesota power plant opens to public

From the August 4, 2017 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published August 3, 2017

By Jeannine Anderson
News Editor

The doors of a new power generation facility in Minnesota were opened to the public late last month. On July 27, the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and its partner, Avant Energy, invited area residents to tour MMPA’s Shakopee Energy Park, a 46-MW natural gas-powered facility that began operating earlier this year.

Shakopee, a public power community of more than 40,000, is about 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Avant Energy — MMPA’s management partner — planned, developed and supervised construction of the facility.

Speaking to a crowd of local citizens at the grand opening, Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars said it was an honor for Shakopee to be chosen as the site for the new power generation facility.

The Shakopee Energy Park “is part of MMPA’s commitment to clean, efficient power generation,” said John Crooks, manager of Shakopee Public Utilities and chairman of the MMPA board of directors.

The plant is quiet because it uses silencers on each engine and sound-absorbing building materials to prevent noise from reaching neighboring property, the power agency said in an Aug. 1 update on its website.

“I have been told that residents did not even know that we were up and running and we have been operating since February,” said Crooks.

Visitors view one of the plant's five 9.3-MW engines at the July 27 grand opening. Photo courtesy of MMPA

The facility was built in less than a year, on time and on budget, said MMPA.

The new generating plant uses five 9.3-megawatt Wartsila engines to produce electricity. The plant can start up in a few minutes — an important complement to renewable generation sources such as wind and solar, which are intermittent.

Waste heat captured from the engines is used to heat the plant and could be used by area businesses in the future to support economic development, the agency said in the news release. Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, can be used as a back-up fuel, and the generators can maintain comparable efficiency as when fueled by natural gas, the agency said.

During the dedication ceremony, Derick Dahlen, president and CEO of Avant Energy, said the new power plant in Shakopee “is good for every MMPA community because it provides power supply flexibility and protects our members against price volatility in the marketplace.”

Other MMPA-owned power generation facilities include Faribault Energy Park, Hometown BioEnergy in Le Sueur, Oak Glen Wind Farm near Blooming Prairie and the Minnesota River Station in Chaska. A solar installation is under development near Buffalo, Minnesota.

Besides Shakopee, other MMPA member utilities are: Anoka, Arlington, Brownton, Buffalo, Chaska, East Grand Forks, Elk River, Le Sueur, North St. Paul, Olivia, and Winthrop.


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