Invenergy touts the 536 MW of new gas capacity it is offering to Xcel

Invenergy Thermal Development LLC revealed on May 3 some minimal details about the offers it is making to fill the needs of Northern States Power, a unit of Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), for new capacity.

Invenergy’s proposal under a Northern States Power request for proposals (RFP) was confidentially filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on April 15, along with public versions of competing proposals from other parties. Then on May 3, Invenergy made a follow-up filing with the commission in the docket that had resulted in the RFP being issued.

Invenergy said it submitted proposals involving expansion of its Cannon Falls facility and a proposed new facility – the Hampton Energy Center, to be located just north of Hampton in Dakota County. “Both the Cannon Falls and Hampton projects involve the use of simple cycle natural gas fired combustion turbines, providing exactly the type of peaking or intermediate resource identified in the 825 Docket by the Commission as the type of resource needed by Xcel,” the company added. “With respect to both Cannon Falls and Hampton, Invenergy provided the full array of information requested and looks forward to proceeding and demonstrating to the Commission that its proposed projects at Cannon Falls and Hampton best meet Xcel’s and its customers’ needs and that none of the other identified alternatives provide a more reasonable and prudent alternative to the Cannon Falls and Hampton Energy Center projects.”

In contrast to Invenergy’s targeted proposal, offering facilities of the size, type and timing identified by the commission, certain other proposals fail to pass muster and should not get further consideration in the proceeding, Invenergy said.

Invenergy thinks Great River, Geronimo offers don’t pass muster

Most notably, Great River Energy submitted a two-page “capacity only” proposal document, appearing to offer a certain number of Zone Resource Credits (ZRCs) but for the years 2017-2019 only, Invenergy added. “This proposal fails to include the type of information required of all bidders and fails to match the size, type and timing of resource identified by the Commission as needed to serve Xcel’s customers,” it said. “Therefore, the Great River proposal should not move forward in this competitive resource acquisition process.”

In contrast to Great River, Geronimo Energy provided substantial detail regarding its “Distributed Solar Energy Proposal” for a total of 100 MW at various sites, Invenergy said. “However, no amount of information can change the fact that Geronimo too misses the mark,” it added. “The Commission did not determine that Xcel needs intermittent resources, but that it requires ‘peaking or intermediate resources, or a combination of the two.’ Invenergy strongly supports solar development and currently operates the 20 MW Grand Ridge Solar farm, located adjacent to our Grand Ridge Wind project in La Salle County, Illinois. In addition, Invenergy has two additional 10 MW solar projects in construction in Ontario, Canada, with additional projects in various stages of development across North America. However, the fact remains that solar energy plays a particular role in the overall energy mix and does not have the operational characteristics of a peaking or intermediate resource of the type identified by the Commission to fill Xcel’s needs beginning in 2017.”

Invenergy didn’t offer criticisms of the remaining proposals in the RFP, which were a 345-MW expansion of the existing Mankato gas plant from Calpine Corp. (NYSE: CPN) and 645-MW of new gas-fired capacity from Xcel itself.

“Invenergy’s ability to fully review and critique other parties’ proposals is severely limited at this time, due to the absence of a protective order which would allow it to review currently redacted information from all other parties’ proposals,” Invenergy said. “Invenergy also understands that at this stage of the proceeding, the Commission is concerned only with procedural and completeness issues. Finally, Invenergy understands that the Commission’s competitive resource acquisition process and, ultimately, Xcel ratepayers, benefit from the kind of robust competition that comes from multiple bids being considered and analyzed.”

Invenergy develops, owns, and operates power generation facilities in North America and Europe, having developed nearly 7,000 MW of utility-scale renewable and natural gas-fueled power generation facilities. In Minnesota, Invenergy has the 357-MW Cannon Falls facility, located in Goodhue County, which has supplied power to Xcel Energy since it commenced operations in 2008. Collectively, Invenergy owns and operates five natural gas power plants totaling 2,210 MW and is currently constructing another 580 MW facility in the Midwest.

Minnesota agency says how to look at environmental impacts of Geronimo a bit unclear

The Minnesota Department of Commerce in its own May 3 comments outlined what it thinks the commission will need to do to look at the environmental impacts of the five RFP offers, including the 536-MW gas-fired proposal of Invenergy.

“With respect to siting, of the five proposals received, the combustion turbine generators proposed by Calpine, Xcel Energy, and Invenergy meet the statutory definition of a large electric power generating plant and would require a site permit,” the department said.

It is unclear what type of permitting and environmental review is required for Geronimo Energy’s proposal, Geronimo added. Geronimo Energy indicates in its proposal that the project will require local land use permits.

“Though this is a plausible permitting scenario, other scenarios are also possible,” it added about Geronimo. “For example, if the project were considered in total, i.e., as an up to 100 MW project, it would be a large electric power generating plant with permitting by the Commission and environment review by [Energy Facility Permitting] EFP staff. It’s also possible that select portions of the project, rather than the project in total, could be considered as connected actions such that these portions of the project would require an environmental assessment worksheet prepared by the Environmental Quality Board. Even in the case of local permitting, EFP staff notes that not all counties in which Geronimo’s proposals are located currently have ordinances that cover large solar projects. Geronimo Energy’s proposal is also novel in that the potential environmental impacts of the project are relatively uncertain. That is, though the application provided by Geronimo Energy provides information on the potential environmental impacts of the project, the state’s experience with environmental review of solar energy projects (as well as that of local governments) is sparse. Thus, compared with combustion turbine generators, the Commission does not have a well of environmental review experience to draw upon.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.