Xcel proposes Black Dog peaking unit in Minnesota

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) proposes to add a 215-MW peaking unit at Black Dog power complex in 2017.

The new gas-fired combustion turbine would help replace the plant’s coal-fired generating capacity, which is set for retirement in 2015.

The company also said April 15 that if needed a second and third 215-MW combustion turbine would be located at a yet-to-be selected site near Hankinson, N.D., which is about 70 miles south of Fargo, and placed in service in 2018 and 2019. The units would take advantage of nearby transmission and natural gas lines.

The new gas-fired peakers would be the best way to meet customer needs in these areas during times of high demand, Xcel said in an April 15 statement.

The proposal to add up to three natural gas-fueled combustion turbines was submitted in response to proceedings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest Resource Plan. Those proceedings concluded the company will need to add 150 MW of new power resources in 2017 and up to another 350 MW by 2019.

“Our proposal responds to our customers’ need for power that can be brought on line quickly and efficiently to meet demand when it’s highest,” said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy subsidiary. “Further, our proposal provides flexibility to allow us to add resources only if they’re needed,” Poferl said.

Regulators in Minnesota and North Dakota will review the company’s proposal and proposals from other parties also being submitted to determine which offering presents the best deal for customers, Xcel said.

“While we continue to expect overall growth in customer electricity usage to remain flat, the recent resource planning process identified a need for some new resources to be available at peak usage times,” Poferl said.

“Xcel Energy serves approximately 90,000 electricity customers in North Dakota, the majority of them in the greater Red River Valley, including the communities of Fargo and Grand Forks,” Poferl said. “Our proposal would enhance the geographic diversity of our fleet.”

Today’s filing in Minnesota includes a request for a Certificate of Need for the Burnsville unit. A filing also is being made with the North Dakota Public Service Commission seeking approval for the two units proposed in that state.

The resource acquisition process now under way is the first in many years for resources other than wind power. A separate request for proposals for new wind generation is pending and is not affected by the proposals submitted today in response to the Resource Plan proceeding.

The Minnesota PUC approved the Xcel NSP resource plan on March 5. Intervenors in the case included the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Calpine (NYSE: CPN), various large industrial power customers, and several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.