Blazing Star works on sale of 200-MW wind project in Minnesota to Xcel

Blazing Star Wind Farm LLC filed some supplemental information on Dec. 2 with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission about its 200-MW wind project, noting that prospective new project owner Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) may make some changes to those plans.

The information filed Dec. 2 addresses issues raised by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Energy Environmental Review and Analysis staff regarding the completeness of Blazing Star’s Site Permit application. Blazing Star is also providing a modified proposed layout. In addition, these comments provide an update regarding Blazing Star’s efforts to secure a power purchase agreement or other enforceable mechanism for the wind energy produced by the project. Blazing Star said it is working with Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy on a sale of the project.

Said the Dec. 2 filing: “Blazing Star understands that Xcel Energy is currently evaluating installing a mix of two turbine types that are within the range of turbines already being considered in the Application. Blazing Star is continuing to work with Xcel Energy on this issue and will provide an update prior to the hearing in this matter.

“On October 24, 2016, Xcel Energy submitted a Petition requesting the Commission’s approval for Xcel Energy to build, own, and operate a 750 MW wind portfolio. Consistent with the process verbally approved by the Commission during its recent 2016-2030 Integrated Resource Plan hearing, the Petition disclosed that Xcel Energy selected the Project to be included in the wind portfolio. Xcel Energy stated that the projects included in the portfolio, including this Project, were selected after a thorough due diligence process and are well-vetted and cost-competitive.

“Blazing Star is pleased that it was able to deliver a competitively-priced Project to meet a portion of Xcel Energy’s identified need for additional wind energy in the 2019-2020 timeframe. Under the regulatory approval process approved by the Commission, approval of Blazing Star, as part of Xcel Energy’s overall wind energy purchase proposal, is unlikely to occur before late 2017. While Blazing Star is confident its proposal is a reasonable and prudent addition to Xcel Energy’s wind purchases, it cannot be assured of final approval by the Commission. Accordingly, Blazing Star is continuing to seek a Certificate of Need and LWECS site permit for the Project. If the Commission approves Xcel Energy’s proposed acquisition of Blazing Star, Blazing Star would seek the Commission’s approval to transfer the applications and permits to Xcel Energy per the terms of the parties’ purchase and sale agreement.

“In addition to selection of Blazing Star, Xcel Energy also announced plans to acquire an additional up to 200 MW of wind energy from Blazing Star 2, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Geronimo Energy, LLC. Blazing Star 2 is a neighboring project, subject to separate commercial arrangements, interconnection and timelines. Accordingly, separate certificate of need and site permit applications will be submitted for Blazing Star 2 at the appropriate time.”

Xcel on Oct. 25 announced that the four selected projects were:

  • Freeborn Wind Energy, a 200-MW project located in Freeborn County, Minnesota, developed by Invenergy;
  • Foxtail Wind, a 150-MW project located in Dickey County, North Dakota, developed by NextEra Energy Resources, an affiliate of NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE);
  • Blazing Star 1, a 200-MW project located in Lincoln County, Minnesota, developed by Geronimo Energy; and
  • Blazing Star 2, a 200-MW project located in Lincoln County, Minnesota, developed by Geronimo Energy.

If approved by regulators, Xcel Energy said it will begin building these wind farms upon completion of the permitting process, expected by mid 2017. The projects are expected to be in service by 2020.

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.