Minnesota Power's resource strategy, EnergyForward, is designed to meet the energy needs of its customers with a balanced energy mix that preserves reliability, protects affordability and further improves environmental performance. It's a roadmap to a cleaner energy future. EnergyForward builds upon renewable energy investments already completed. It further diversifies the company's generation mix, balancing coal, renewables and natural gas and builds upon significant emission reductions at existing power plants. It does so while preserving the reliable and affordable power Minnesota Power's customers have come to expect.
Now that it's completed three phases of the Bison Wind Project in North Dakota, Minnesota Power is delivering more than 400 megawatts of clean, renewable wind energy to customers. With the recent extension of the federal production tax credit on wind generation equipment, the company is adding a 200-megawatt expansion, Bison 4.
Minnesota Power will further leverage its renewable resources through a power purchase agreement with Manitoba Hydro for 250 megawatts of hydropower beginning in 2020. The company is proposing to deliver the carbon free energy on the new 500-kilovolt Great Northern Transmission line stretching from the Canadian border to northeastern Minnesota, expected to be completed by 2020.
As part of its EnergyForward plan, Minnesota Power is upgrading the largest hydroelectric system in the state, by increasing efficiencies at its Thomson and Fond du Lac hydroelectric stations. At the same time, the company will continue its leading-edge Power of One© conservation program which has exceeded state conservation goals by providing customers with tools to lower their energy usage.
Minnesota Power is investing approximately $310 million in additional environmental upgrades at its largest electric generator, Boswell Energy Center Unit 4, to comply with the EPA Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS) and the Minnesota Mercury Emission Reduction Act, resulting in at least a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions. These upgrades, combined with other emission reduction investments made since 2006, will result in system-wide emission reductions of more than 85 percent by 2016. Boswell 4 in 2010 made major nitrogen oxide emission reductions and increased its operating efficiency with new turbine rotor investments.
Careful consideration of power supply options led to the decision to refuel or remove from service one-third of Minnesota Power's coal energy conversion units. These plans include converting the company's 110-megawatt (MW) Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes to a natural gas peaking facility in 2015, thereby transforming Laskin into the company's first all-natural gas fueled facility and retiring one of three coal-fired units at Minnesota Power's 225-MW Taconite Harbor facility in Schroeder.
As part of its EnergyForward plan, the company expects to add natural gas to its long-term power supply beyond the Laskin conversion to natural gas fuel. Minnesota Power's energy mix in the future is expected to consist of approximately one-third renewable energy, one-third natural gas and one- third coal-fired generation.