Xcel moves ahead to build 1,550 MW of wind energy

Utility Xcel Energy looks to add 1,550 megawatts (MW) of wind energy to its system through a mixture of power purchase agreements and utility-owned projects that will increase the company's wind portfolio by 60%.

Seven wind farms will be built in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, Kallanish Energy understands.

Xcel's plan includes 750 MW of self-build projects proposed last fall, and 800 MW of new proposals, including a 300 MW project in South Dakota. To be developed by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, the project reportedly would be the Upper Midwest state’s largest wind farm.

“This investment in renewable energy keeps bills low for customers while giving them the clean energy they want and helping us achieve 63% carbon-free energy by 2030,” Xcel Energy-Minnesota president Chris Clark said, in a statement.

The 750 MW of self-build projects announced five months ago include: the 200 MW Freeborn Wind Energy farm in Minnesota and Iowa, to be developed by Invenergy; the 150 MW Foxtail Wind project in North Dakota, developed by NextEra Energy Resources; and Blazing Star 1 and 2, each a 200 MW farm in Minnesota to be developed by Geronimo Energy.

Another 800 MW of newly-proposed projects will be owned by other companies, with Xcel Energy obtaining the power through purchase agreements.

The Crowned Ridge Wind Project in South Dakota will be a 300 MW build-own-transfer project with a 300 MW purchased power agreement. That project will be developed by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy.

The Lake Benton Wind Project in Minnesota will be a 100 MW build-own-transfer project developed by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, and the Clean Energy 1 in North Dakota, to be developed by ALLETE Clean Energy, includes a 100 MW power purchase agreement.

Xcel expects to take advantage of federal production tax credits to secure low wind energy prices. All the projects still require regulatory approval, but are expected to be in service by 2020.