The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 17 is due to look at two applications from Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) for approval of agreements to take power from four wind projects with a total of 750 MW of capacity.
Commission staff on Oct. 10 filing a briefing memo that summarizes the applications and the comments offered on them by intervening parties.
Xcel Energy filed with the commission two petitions for approval of four separate wind project acquisitions. The first filing was for three 200-MW wind projects: Odell, Courtenay and Pleasant Valley. The second filing, delayed while contract terms were worked out with the developer, was for the 150-MW Border Winds project.
Xcel is proposing to: enter into two 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Geronimo Energy for the output of the Odell and Courtenay wind projects; and enter into two agreements with RES Americas for the Pleasant Valley and Border projects where RES Americas would build the wind farms then sell them to Xcel.
Odell and Pleasant Valley will be in Minnesota, while Courtenay and Border will be in nearby North Dakota. Odell and Border are both due for operation by late 2015, with Courtenay to be in operation in September 2015 and Pleasant Valley in October 2015.
Xcel has requested from the commission:
- A determination that the proposals to enter into the four wind projects are reasonable and prudent approaches to meeting its obligations under the Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard;
- approvals of the Odell and Courtenay PPAs for recovery through Xcel’s Fuel Clause Rider; and
- approval of the purchases of the Pleasant Valley and Border Winds projects as consistent with the public interest (including related rule variances).
Under state statute, Xcel is required to meet certain milestones by 2020 so that 30% of its retail sales to its customers are generated by renewable energy (at least 25% by wind). Xcel has enough renewable energy generation to meet its near term milestones required under the RES. However, the company estimates that it will need to add approximately 1,000 MW to meet and sustain compliance with the Minnesota RES.