Minnesota PUC lays out review process for Xcel RFP offers

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission plans an Oct. 15 public hearing, and Oct. 21-25 evidentiary hearings, on the need by Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) to acquire new power supplies under an ongoing resource plan.

The public comment period ends on Nov. 1, the commission said in a Sept. 30 notice outlining the public comment process.

The commission has initiated a Competitive Resource Acquisition Process to select resources to meet the need identified in Xcel Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) docket. In a March 5 order, the commission:

  • found that the record in the docket demonstrates a need for an additional 150 MW 2017, increasing up to 500 MW by 2019; and
  • Authorized entities to propose to provide the resources for meeting some or all of Xcel’s needs.

Notable is that Xcel on Sept. 27 filed an update with the commission saying that, based on latest data, the capacity deficit has shrunk to 93 MW in 2017, then growing to 307 MW by 2019.

In its review of the April bids in an Xcel request for proposals to meet this need, the commission will consider the following offers:

  • Calpine‘s (NYSE: CPN) natural gas combustion turbine and a heat recovery steam generator with a total capacity of 345 MW as an addition to the existing, gas-fired Mankato Energy Center;
  • Geronimo Energy‘s up to 100 MW of solar generation distributed at up to 31 sites across Minnesota;
  • Great River Energy‘s Midcontinent ISO Zone 1 Resource Credits for capacity only;
  • Invenergy Energy‘s three 178.5 MW natural gas combustion turbines, one at the existing Cannon Falls gas-fired peaking plant and two at the greenfield Hampton Energy Center, for a combined capacity of 535.5 MW; and
  • Xcel Energy’s three 215 MW combustion turbine gas generators with a total capacity of 645 MW. One of the proposed locations is at Xcel’s existing Black Dog power plant in Burnsville, Minn. The two additional turbines would be built near Hankinson, N.D., at a to-be-determined greenfield site.

The proposals will be weighed against each other in a formal evidentiary proceeding based on the certificate of need statute and rules. The commission has referred this matter to an Administrative Law Judge for contested case proceedings. At the conclusion of the process, the commission is expected to select one or some combination of the proposed alternatives to meet Xcel Energy’s identified need. This proceeding is the only proceeding in which the no-build alternative and the size, type, timing, and system configuration will be considered.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is preparing an environmental report which will review the potential human and environmental impacts of the proposals and alternatives, as well as ways to address impacts of those alternatives. The environmental report is expected to be released on Oct. 14.

After receiving the administrative judge’s report, the PUC will make final decisions at a separate meeting, expected in early 2014.

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.