Xcel pursues approvals for 150-MW Border Winds project

An administrative law judge was named on Sept. 11 at the North Dakota Public Service Commission to handle an Aug. 13 application from Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) for the 150-MW Border Winds project.

Xcel is seeking from the commission an Advance Determination of Prudence and a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for this project. The 150-MW Border Winds project is being developed by RES Americas in northeastern Rolette County, N.D., and upon completion the facility will be transferred to Xcel to own and operate.

The Border Winds project was Xcel identified for acquisition through its February 2013 Request for Proposals (RFP) for additional wind resources. On July 26, the company requested an advance determination of prudence for three other wind resources identified through the RFP process – the 200-MW Courtenay and 200-MW Odell Power Purchase Agreements, and the Purchase Sale Agreement with RES Americas for the 200-MW Pleasant Valley wind facility. Border Winds wasn’t part of the July 26 filing because Xcel was still working out final project details with RES Americas.

“Once again, the acquisition of a wind-powered generating resource represents a prudent opportunity for the Company to meet the needs of all the customers we serve within our five-state integrated NSP system in the most cost-effective manner possible,” said the Aug. 13 Border Winds application. “Energy from the Border Winds Project will often displace more expensive energy from traditionally-fired generation plants elsewhere. We estimate that with the addition of this 150 MW wind resource, our customers’ bills will, over time, be approximately $45 million lower than they would be otherwise. And generally, Company-owned resources can continue to deliver the benefits of such low-cost energy to our customers over a longer time period.”

Preliminary work indicates that the Border Winds project may require transmission network upgrades costing up to $50m. The extent of transmission network upgrades will be determined as Midwest ISO studies are completed this fall and next winter. “Given the deadline for [federal production tax credit] eligibility, we cannot wait for better transmission information before presenting our petition and still capture the potential benefits of the Project for our customers,” Xcel said. “Instead, we have negotiated contract provisions that allow us to terminate the development of the Project at various stages in the MISO interconnection process if it becomes apparent that transmission costs are too high.”

The Border Winds project will be located on 52.5 square miles of land in northeastern Rolette County, N.D., immediately south of the U.S.-Canadian border. Analysis predicted a net capacity factor of 45.51%. The project will interconnect at a new 230 kV substation on Xcel’s Rugby-to-Glenboro 230 kV line. A less than one-mile 230 kV line will connect the wind farm’s collector substation to the point of interconnection.

Xcel applied Aug. 9 at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for approval of the Border Winds project.

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.