100-MW North Star solar project in Minnesota a first for MISO power market

The Midcontinent ISO said Dec. 16 that for the first time in its 15 year history, it has integrated a solar farm into its regional energy markets.

The 100-MW North Star solar farm is located outside of Minneapolis. It is the largest solar facility in the Midwest and one of the largest in the country. The project includes more than 440,000 solar panels spanning 1,000 acres. Xcel Energy‘s (NYSE: XEL) Northern States Power subsidiary will purchase power generated by the facility.

“MISO is excited to have the first solar farm participating in our energy markets,” said Todd Ramey, MISO vice-president of system operations. “MISO remains committed to supporting our members in meeting their policy goals through reliable and efficient markets. This project furthers the integration of renewable resources into our markets.”

“We’re proud to play a role in connecting the first and largest solar project in the Midwest to the MISO network,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “Solar power from North Star is a key element in Xcel Energy’s plan to deliver more than 60 percent carbon free energy for our customers by 2030.”

Over the past few years, several large-scale solar farms have been built in the MISO region. North Star is the first project where the solar-generated electricity can be traded in the wholesale energy market. Months of planning and testing went into the project to ensure the smooth integration of solar power into MISO’s day-ahead and real-time markets. Solar power forecasting for North Star will be done by Energy and Meteo – the same company MISO uses for its wind power forecasting.

Construction is complete on the North Star Solar project in Chisago County, Minnesota, Xcel and other project parties had announced on Oct. 19. They said the project was due for operation in December. Xcel Energy will purchase power from North Star as part of a 25-year deal to provide solar energy to customers across the Upper Midwest. Swinerton Renewable Energy built the facility. It joined partners Chisago County, D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments LLC (DESRI), Community Energy Solar and Xcel to celebrate the end of construction.

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.