Community Power: Grand Opening for Minnesota Power Generation Facility
MINNEAPOLIS– The doors of a new power generation facility in Minnesota were opened to the public July 27. The Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA) with its partner, Avant Energy, invited area residents to view and explore MMPA’s Shakopee Energy Park 46 MW natural gas-powered facility.
Shakopee, a community of more than 40,000, is about 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Avant Energy, MMPA’s long-time management partner, planned, developed and supervised construction of the facility, and now handles operations management.
Speaking to a crowd of local citizens invited to the grand opening, Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars said it is “an honor” for Shakopee to be chosen as the site for MMPA’s power generation facility. 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.
John Crooks, Shakopee Public Utilities Manager and Chairman of the MMPA Board of Directors, said, “Shakopee Energy Park is part of MMPA’s commitment to clean, efficient power generation.” Crooks said, “I have been told that residents did not even know that we were up and running and we have been operating since February.” The facility uses silencers on each engine and sound absorbing building materials to prevent noise from reaching neighboring property.
During the dedication ceremony, Derick Dahlen, President and CEO of MMPA’s management partner, Avant Energy of Minneapolis said, “Shakopee Energy Park is good for every MMPA community because it provides power supply flexibility and protects our members against price volatility in the marketplace.”
Dahlen also pointed out that in addition to power supply, MMPA supports its member communities by providing annual educational programming at its power generation facilities.
During a tour of the power facility, local residents learned some interesting facts:
- Shakopee Energy Park uses five (9.3 MW) 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.
- The facility was constructed in less than a year. Construction was completed on time and on budget.
- An advantage to LNG as a back-up fuel is that the generators maintain comparable efficiency as when fueled by natural gas.
- 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.
Shakopee Energy Park is now part of MMPA’s diversified generation portfolio, featuring both conventional and renewable resources.
More information about energy management firm Avant Energy is available at www.avantenergy.com. More information about MMPA is available at www.mmpa.org. Members include municipal utilities in Anoka, Arlington, Brownton, Buffalo, Chaska, East Grand Forks, Elk River, Le Sueur, North St. Paul, Olivia, Shakopee and Winthrop.