Odell Wind Farm seeks Minnesota approval for 200-MW project

Odell Wind Farm LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Geronimo Wind Energy LLC d/b/a Geronimo Energy LLC, applied Sept. 26 at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for a site permit for its 200-MW Odell Wind Farm project.

The project is located in southwestern Minnesota, spread across parts of Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin and Watonwan counties.

Odell will develop, design, construct, own, and operate the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2014. Odell told the commission it reserves the right to sell or assign the project to another qualified entity before, during, or after the project’s construction, provided it receives the proper commission approvals.

Odell also proposes to construct an approximately 9.5-mile, 115-kV transmission line from the Odell Wind Farm substation in Cottonwood County to the planned 115 kV/345-kV interconnection substation in Martin County. Odell plans to submit a separate route permit application for a high voltage transmission line (HVTL) for the 115-kV transmission line and associated facilities. Odell said it will obtain an interconnection agreement with transmission owners and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).

Geronimo is a utility-scale renewable energy developer based in Edina, Minn. It has developed three operating wind projects in southern Minnesota;

  • the 200-MW Prairie Rose Project in Rock County was placed in service in December 2012;
  • its 18.9-MW Marshall Wind Farm near Marshall was placed in service in 2009; and
  • its neighboring 20-MW Odin Wind Farm, near Odin, was placed in service in 2007.

Geronimo has a strategic partnership with Enel Green Power North America (EGPNA), which is a leading owner and operator of renewable energy plants in North America with projects operating and under development in 21 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.  EGPNA owns and operates over 90 plants with an installed capacity of more than 1.2 GW powered by renewable hydropower, wind, geothermal, solar and biomass energy.

As Geronimo’s largest shareholder, EGPNA supports Geronimo’s project development and working capital needs, the application noted. EGPNA provided common equity for the Prairie Rose project, and Geronimo plans to leverage EGPNA’s vast experience and technical expertise, along with its sources of capital, equipment and services to develop, construct and operate the Odell Wind Farm in a competitive, cost-effective manner.

Project has a recent power purchase deal with Xcel Energy

A certificate of need (CN) is required for all “large energy facilities,” as defined in Minnesota statutes, unless the facility falls within a statutory exemption. Because this project is a generating plant larger than 50 MW, it meets the definition of a large energy facility and would require a CN prior to issuance of a site permit and construction. The project is exempt, however, from CN requirements because it was selected by Northern States Power d/b/a/ Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) as part of a competitive bidding process as a resource to be used to meet Xcel’s requirements under the state Renewable Energy Standard (RES), Odel argued.

Odell executed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Xcel for the full output of the facility in July. Xcel filed a petition for approval of the Odell PPA on July 16. On July 25, the commission issued a notice requesting comments on, among other things, whether Odell is exempt from the CN requirements and, if so, which statutory exemption applies. Odell said it anticipates the commission will issue a final order addressing those questions in late 2013.

Odell said it has modified the footprint of the project over time to create the most efficient and effective wind energy project possible. Odellis evaluating wind turbines with rated power outputs of 1.5 MW, 1.6 MW and 2.0 MW, which would result in the installation of between 100 and 133 wind turbines. The project area contains approximately 34,592 acres, of which 20,780 are currently leased for the project.

This is one of four wind projects that involve Xcel

Xcel applied Aug. 9 at the Minnesota commission for approval of a 150-MW wind project that would be in addition to the three, 200-MW wind projects that it recently worked out deals with. The utility has entered into contracts with RES Americas to develop the Border Winds Project, which will be located in northeastern Rolette County, N.D. Once complete, RES Americas will transfer ownership of the plant to Xcel Energy.

The Border Winds Project is a resource the company identified for acquisition through its February 2013 Request for Proposals (RFP) for additional wind resources. On July 16, the company requested approval by the commission of three other wind projects it identified through that same RFP process – the 200-MW Odell and 200-MW Courtenay Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), and the Purchase Sale Agreement (PSA) with RES Americas for the 200-MW Pleasant Valley wind facility.

Like with the Border Winds Project, Xcel would buy Pleasant Valley from RES Americas. It would merely buy power under the PPAs from Odell and Courtenay, which are both projects backed by Geronimo Energy.

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.