Minnesota commission okays Xcel for Geronimo Energy solar offer

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on March 27 ruled in favor of solar capacity offered by Geronimo Energy as a cost-competitive energy source for Minnesota-based Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy.

As the result of a competitive resource acquisition process, Geronimo Energy’s Aurora Solar Project was selected by the PUC to fill a portion of Xcel’s future generation needs. It was chosen over other options that included gas-fired capacity offered by Xcel itself and other parties, including Calpine.

“We are very pleased to have been part of this unique process and to show that solar energy can be a cost competitive and reliable part of the energy mix,” said Geronimo Energy President Blake Nixon in March 27 statement.

“This is a big win for us, as well as for the larger solar energy industry,” said Betsy Engelking, Vice President of Geronimo Energy. “The Aurora project competed with a number of natural gas plants and in the end, the Commission found that our project was a cost competitive part of the overall solution and would help Xcel Energy meet Minnesota’s energy policy goals.”

The PUC’s decision comes after an historic recommendation to adopt the Aurora Solar Project as a first source of fulfillment for Xcel’s resource needs made by Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman in December 2013. In his report, Lipman stated that “the greatest value to Minnesota and Xcel’s ratepayers is drawn from selecting Geronimo’s solar energy proposal.”

The Aurora Solar Project is a 100-MW distributed solar generation project that will utilize solar arrays ranging in size from 2 MW to 10 MW scattered across Xcel’s service territory. The project will interconnect to multiple Xcel Energy substations across Minnesota and will provide energy and capacity for the local distribution network.

This unique design, said Geronimo, will deliver many benefits, including a reduction in line loss, elimination of transmission costs, and geographic diversification of generation assets. Arrays will be located throughout 16 counties in Minnesota.

Geronimo Energy is a utility-scale wind and solar energy developer headquartered in Edina, Minn. It has developed three operating wind farms and several solar projects in Minnesota. Geronimo is poised to build six additional wind projects with an aggregate nameplate capacity of over 1,000 MW throughout the Midwest over the next two years and expects to build the 100 MW Aurora Solar Project in Minnesota, as well as other solar facilities nationwide, by 2016. Geronimo has a strategic partnership with Enel Green Power North America.

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.