Xcel Energy Inc.'s Midwest wind energy expansion plan, approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in early July, includes the addition of owned and contracted capacity.
The company issued a request for build-own-transfer proposals and bids for power purchase agreements for up to 1,500 MW of wind capacity in September 2016. The additional resources are intended to serve electricity customers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Xcel Energy's utilities serving those states are known legally as Northern States Power Co. - Minnesota and Northern States Power Co. - Wisconsin.
The selected projects, all of which are in the Midcontinent ISO region and in the development stage, include 1,150 MW that Xcel Energy will own and 400 MW the company will obtain under contract.
Four chosen projects were initially named the month following the original request for proposals. These are the Freeborn Wind Resource Project, a 200-MW plant owned by Invenergy LLC unit Invenergy Wind Development North America and located in Freeborn County, Minn.; the Blazing Star I Wind Farm and Blazing Star II Wind Farm owned by Geronimo Energy, each with a 200-MW capacity and located in Lincoln County, Minn.; and the Foxtail Wind Project in Dickey County, N.D., with 150 MW of capacity and owned by NextEra Energy Resources LLC. Blazing Star I is expected to come online by 2018, while the other three are scheduled to be complete by 2020.
In March, Xcel Energy announced it would be acquiring the Lake Benton II Wind Repower project, another plant owned by NextEra. This wind project has a total capacity of 100 MW and is in Pipestone County, Minn. It is expected to come online in 2020. The existing Lake Benton II wind plant began commercial operation in 1999 and its output is already under contract to Xcel Energy.
Also in March, Xcel Energy said it would acquire 300 MW of NextEra's planned Crowned Ridge Wind Energy Center Project in Codington County, S.D., through a build-to-transfer arrangement and obtain another 300 MW from Crowned Ridge under a power purchase agreement. In the same announcement, Xcel Energy said it would contract for the output of the 100-MW Clean Energy No. 1 Wind Project in Mercer County, N.D., owned by ALLETE Clean Energy.
NextEra Energy Resources is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. ALLETE Clean Energy is a subsidiary of ALLETE Inc.
Xcel Energy was able to secure the full 2016 value of the federal production tax credit for all of their chosen wind facilities by making component purchases and performing other qualifying actions, company spokesman Randy Fordice said. According to the company, the new portfolio will double its renewable resource over the next 15 years and help decrease carbon emissions by 60% from 2005 levels. The North Dakota Public Service Commission will review the expansion plan later this year.