Minnesota approval sought for 100 MW of distributed solar

Aurora Distributed Solar LLC, an affiliate of Geronimo Energy LLC, on July 9 applied with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for a Site Permit on a series of solar projects that add up to about 100 MW of capacity.

Aurora proposes to construct distributed photovoltaic (PV) solar systems and associated facilities totaling 100 MW (ac) nameplate capacity, to be located at up to 24 facilities interconnected to Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy distribution stations. The distributed solar facilities range in size from 1.5 MW to 10.0 MW and will utilize linear axis tracker systems.

Aurora is seeking the Site Permit for all 24 facilities, but, building the full capacity of all 24 facilities would result in over 100 MW. So therefore Aurora does not anticipate constructing all 24 facilities. The number, combination, and capacity of the individual facilities ultimately selected for construction will depend on a number of factors, including site-specific conditions, engineering studies, environmental survey results, and interconnection details.

The Aurora Project is to be placed in service by the end of 2016 with the flexibility to bring a portion online in 2015. The project falls within the definition of a Large Electric Power Generating Plant (LEPGP) in the state’s Power Plant Siting Act and, thus, requires a Site Permit from the commission prior to construction.

This was a winning project out of an Xcel RFP

On May 23, the commission directed Xcel to negotiate draft agreements for this capacity, since it had selected this solar project as one of the most reasonable and prudent resources to meet Xcel Energy’s identified need for new generating resources. This was a winning bid under a request for proposals that resulted in both internal and external generation project proposals, including gas-fired options.

The Aurora project is designed to provide distributed solar energy to meet Xcel Energy’s needs for additional capacity in the 2017-2019 timeframe. The project will provide 71 MW of Midcontinent ISO accredited capacity and supply Xcel Energy with approximately 200,000 megawatt hours (MWh) annually of reliable, deliverable on-peak energy.

The geographic dispersion of the project increases its reliability, because the total project will be less susceptible to outages due to equipment failure or transmission outage, the application noted. Because each facility will be located at a distribution substation, the overall project will experience substantially lower losses than most conventional power plants. In addition, the distribution level interconnections will have less lead time, lower risk and lower cost than typical transmission interconnections.

Aurora Distributed Solar is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enel Kansas LLC. Enel Kansas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enel Green Power North America (EGPNA). Aurora is being developed utilizing the strategic partnership between EGPNA and Geronimo Wind Energy LLC d/b/a Geronimo Energy LLC.

A project contact is: Nathan Franzen, Director of Solar, Geronimo Energy, 7650 Edinborough Way, Suite 725, Edina, MN 55435, Nathan@GeronimoEnergy.com, (952) 988-9000.

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.