Cost savings for customers and lower carbon emissions are among the benefits of a proposal approved today by Minnesota regulators to add 750 megawatts of wind power capacity on Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest grid.
“Wind energy is a clean, low-cost substitute for natural gas and other fuels right now,” said Dave Sparby, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. “These cost-competitive projects will save customers money by providing a valuable hedge to rising and volatile fuel prices well into the future.”
Four projects – which represent a 42 percent increase in the company’s wind power capacity in the Upper Midwest – were approved today by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Consideration by the North Dakota Public Service Commission is expected by the end of the year.
“With 1,800 megawatts of wind on our Upper Midwest system, we already are ahead of meeting state renewable energy targets,” Sparby said. “These four projects – which will provide enough power to serve about 200,000 homes – position us to continue to meet those targets while saving customers more than $225 million over the projects’ lives.
“At the same time, the projects will reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.5 million tons each year in our Upper Midwest territory, where we already are on track to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.”
Approved by Minnesota regulators were:
• Courtenay Wind Farm, a 200-megawatt project near Jamestown, N.D., under a power purchase agreement with Geronimo Energy;
• Odell Wind Farm, a 200-megawatt project near Windom, Minn., also under a power purchase agreement with Geronimo Energy;
• Pleasant Valley, a 200-megawatt project near Austin, Minn., submitted by RES America Developments Inc. RES would develop the project and transfer ownership to Xcel Energy. The Pleasant Valley project is adjacent to the Grand Meadow wind project, which Xcel Energy owns.
• Border Winds Project, a 150-megawatt project located in Rolette County in north central North Dakota, near the Canadian border.
RES would develop the project and transfer ownership to Xcel Energy.
All four projects are scheduled to be in service by the end of 2015.
Combined with proposals in the company’s Colorado and Texas/New Mexico service areas, Xcel Energy this year has proposed adding a total of 1,900 megawatts of wind
resources, a 40 percent increase in company-wide wind capacity.
“Our system is better today because we continue to sensibly invest in a balanced portfolio of cleaner, modern technologies to meet our customers’ needs,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “These projects demonstrate that we can achieve both environmental and economic benefits for our customers.”
In January, Congress extended the federal renewable electricity Production Tax Credit to projects that begin significant construction activities by the end of 2013. Xcel Energy supported the PTC extension and also supports the Consumer Renewable Credit, a proposed tax credit that would provide low-cost federal support of continued, cost-effective wind development.
Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company that provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies in eight Western and Midwestern states. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis.