Xcel Energy Announces Big Wind Plans For Upper Midwest


Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy has rolled out a proposal to add seven wind farms in the Upper Midwest. Totaling 1,500 MW of wind energy and increasing the utility’s Upper Midwest wind fleet by 60%, the projects would be situated in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Xcel Energy is proposing a combination of owned projects and power purchase agreements; in total, these represent more than $2.5 billion in capital investments. The company says it is taking advantage of federal production tax credits to secure lower prices.

Advances in turbine technology, improved wind forecasting and an expanded transmission system are expected to play a role in the ability to build the new wind farms, the utility adds.

“We’re significantly increasing the amount of wind generation on our system – in part due to the recent completion of Midwest transmission projects that connect wind-rich areas to our customers,” explains Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota.

Over their expected life spans, the proposed wind farms are projected to generate nearly $200 million in property taxes and $150 million in landowner payments. In addition, the projects, when operational, are estimated to create approximately 1,500 construction jobs and about 80 full-time jobs.

“This investment in renewable energy keeps bills low for customers while giving them the clean energy they want and helping us achieve 63 percent carbon-free energy by 2030,” adds Clark. “Wind energy is at historically low prices right now, so we’re able to reduce emissions while securing long-term cost savings for our customers.”

Proposed in October of last year, the 750 MW of self-build projects are the following:

  • Freeborn Wind Energy, a 200 MW, Invenergy-developed project located in Freeborn County, Minn., and Worth and Mitchell counties, Iowa;
  • Foxtail Wind, a 150 MW wind farm located in Dickey County, N.D., and developed by NextEra Energy Resources;
  • Blazing Star 1, a 200 MW project located in Lincoln County, Minn., and developed by Geronimo Energy;
  • Blazing Star 2, a 200 MW wind project located in Lincoln County, Minn., and developed by Geronimo Energy.

The 800 MW of newly proposed projects are the following:

  • Crowned Ridge Wind Project, a 300 MW build-own-transfer project and a 300 MW power purchase agreement. The wind farm will be located in Codington, Deuel and Grant counties, S.D., and developed by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy;
  • Lake Benton Wind Project, a 100 MW build-own-transfer project in Pipestone County, Minn., and developed by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy;
  • Clean Energy 1, a 100 MW power purchase agreement project in Morton and Mercer counties, N.D., and developed by ALLETE Clean Energy;

All projects are subject to state and local regulatory approval. If accepted, they will be in service by 2020, says Xcel Energy.

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