Gas Plant Planned for Dairyland

Dairyland Power Cooperative said it is partnering with Minnesota Power to build a natural gas facility of 525 to 550 megawatts to back up its increasing renewable energy resources and meet forecasts for significant demand growth.

A rendering of the natural gas plant that Dairyland Power Co-op is partnering on. (Photo By: Dairyland)

A rendering of the natural gas plant that Dairyland Power Co-op is partnering on. (Photo By: Dairyland)

Dairyland, which serves 24 distribution co-ops in four states, said the Nemadji Trail Energy Center will come online in 2024, contingent upon regulatory approvals.

The combined-cycle natural gas plant will be built at a shovel-ready industrial site controlled by the project partners in northwest Wisconsin, where it will have excellent access to natural gas pipelines, the co-op said.

The Nemadji Trail Energy Center will provide critical backup for solar and wind power and help meet expected load increases, the co-op said. Dairyland said its members have acquired additional consumers in Minnesota and Illinois that will result in a 20 percent load growth by 2025.

"We've talked for a long time about the need to add natural gas as a renewable-enabling resource," said Barbara Nick, president and CEO of the La Crosse, Wisconsin-based G&T.

"Dairyland's resource diversification strategy enables renewable forms of generation and ensures reliability, sustainability and affordability. Natural gas plants provide critical back-up to intermittent renewable sources of power, like solar and wind. The Nemadji Trail Energy Center will respond on demand, providing the energy required by our membership and Minnesota Power's customers exactly when they need it—at the flip of a switch."

Dairyland has invested in 21 MW of solar energy projects at 15 sites in member co-op service territories in Wisconsin and Iowa. The co-op said it entered power purchase agreements with the 80-MW Barton Wind Farm with Avangrid Renewables in Iowa this spring and the 98-MW Quilt Block Wind Farm with EDP Renewables in southwestern Wisconsin, which goes online later this year.