Geronimo argues against new proceeding for Odell wind project

Geronimo Wind Energy LLC told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Aug. 8 that its 200-MW Odell Wind Farm LLC project should not have to go through a Certificate of Need (CN) proceeding.

The Odell Wind project is one of three winning, 200-MW projects that Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) has petitioned for approval of, with all three to be placed in service prior to Dec. 31, 2015. The projects were selected pursuant to a competitive bidding process that was initiated in February when Xcel Energy issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to 200 MW of wind generation.

Geronimo Wind Energy LLC d/b/a Geronimo Energy, a Minnesota-based wind and solar developer, is the owner of Courtenay Wind Farm LLC and Odell Wind Farm LLC. Geronimo has executed power purchase agreements with Xcel for the energy produced by the Courtenay and Odell projects.

Odell plans to construct an up to 200-MW large wind energy conversion system and related approximately 9.5 mile, 115-kV high voltage transmission line in parts of Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin, and Watonwan counties, near Mountain Lake, Minn. Odell’s project will provide 200 MW of wind energy to Xcel Energy to meet its renewable energy standard (RES) obligations.

“Xcel estimates that it will need to acquire an additional 1,000 MW of wind power to meet Minnesota’s RES obligations,” said Geronimo.” The 200 MW of wind from Odell will satisfy a portion of this outstanding obligation. Notably, Xcel estimates that acquisition of 600 MW of wind through this Petition will extend the utility’s compliance with the RES through 2021. Therefore, Odell’s 200 MW Project is consistent with, and will help satisfy, Xcel’s outstanding RES obligations.”

Geronimo argued that the commission-approved procurement process for this capacity in essence replaces the need for a separate CN for the Odell project. “The Commission has the authority to approve Xcel’s 2013 Wind RFP competitive bidding process, as well as the Odell PPA, in the current docket,” the company said. “Therefore, Geronimo requests the Commission’s Order clearly approve the 2013 Wind RFP competitive process and find that Odell, as a resource acquired through that process, is exempt from CN requirements.”

The three winning projects picked by Xcel are:

  • Courtenay Wind, a 200-MW project near Jamestown, N.D., under a power purchase agreement with Geronimo Energy;
  • Odell Wind, a 200-MW project near Windom, Minn., also under an agreement with Geronimo Energy; and
  • Pleasant Valley, a 200-MW project near Austin, Minn., submitted by RES America Developments. RES would develop the project and then transfer ownership to Xcel. The Pleasant Valley project is adjacent to the Grand Meadow wind project, which Xcel Energy owns.

Of note is that Xcel Energy indicated in its Aug. 2 Form 10-Q statement that in addition to the Pleasant Valley project, NSP has been in discussions with RES Americas regarding an additional 150 MW build-ownership project. This project may be brought to the Minnesota PUC and the North Dakota Public Service Commission in separate petitions, depending on transmission costs which will be determined by MISO. 

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.