ALLETE Widens Green Service in Minn.

Zacks Equity Research

ALLETE Inc. (ALE) dedicated its Bison Wind Energy Center to public service. Bison Wind Energy Center offers renewable energy services via a transmission line to customers on the eastern part of the state of Minnesota. The project was supervised by ALLETE’s business wing Minnesota Power. A total of $500 million was shelled out by the company for this program.

The Bison Energy facility falls under the company’s EnergyForward Plan and has generated 750,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity which can adequately power about 85,000 customers for a year.

The project located in south-central Dakota started construction in 2010. Since then ALLETE has added 101 Siemens wind turbines which led to production of 292 megawatt (MW) of cheap electricity for its northern Minnesota customers. The output is supplied through a 465 mile direct current transmission line that was acquired by ALLETE in 2009.

The Bison Wind project was undertaken to fulfill the mandate of keeping the renewable share at 25% by the state’s utilities by 2025. This doubled the company’s renewable portfolio thereby diversifying its supply portfolio.

The expiration of the production tax credit in 2012 also motivated the company to accelerate the project. The company set up 70 towers which included cutting-edge 3 MW-direct drive Siemens turbines. The benefits of the state and federal tax credits contributed to low-emission and cost-effective power services to ALLETE’s customers.

With clean energy steadily gaining ground in the U.S., ALLETE’s efforts to widen its renewable operations looks well-timed. In the long run, the company’s goal of reaching a balanced asset mix of one-third renewable, one-third natural gas and one-third coal will prove to be beneficial as renewable consumption is estimated to rise 3.3% as per the Energy Information Administration.

ALLETE is especially keen to reap the advantages of the extended 2013 production credits by the government. Besides wind energy, the company is also focusing to develop its hydro properties and has signed a contract to deliver 200 MW of power from its Manitoba Hydro unit by 2020.

The combination of these positive factors will certainly position ALLETE well in the energy market. Presently, the company has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Other operators in the utility domain that warrant a look are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) Companhia Paranaense de Energia (ELP) and CPFL ENERGIA S.A. (CPL). Also, worth mentioning is DTE Energy Company (DTE) with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Based in Duluth, Minn., ALLETE along with its subsidiaries primarily engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of coal, natural gas and renewable energy.

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