Xcel Energy selects local construction companies for Upper Midwest wind expansion

The region’s largest expansion of wind energy will be developed by local companies, Xcel Energy announced today. Golden Valley, Minn.-based Mortenson Construction will construct the Blazing Star 1 and Blazing Star 2 wind farms in southwest Minnesota. Fargo, North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction will build the Foxtail Wind Farm in North Dakota and the Freeborn Wind Energy project located primarily in Iowa with some turbines in southern Minnesota.

“Xcel Energy has been the leading wind energy provider for more than a decade,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “Hiring local companies for our wind projects delivers the benefits of clean energy and creates economic development opportunities for our communities. Additionally, these projects will save our customers billions of dollars in fuel and other costs in the coming decades.”

“We are excited to continue our strong relationship with Xcel Energy.  Together our teams are delivering low cost renewable energy to Xcel Energy’s customers, creating economic growth in local communities and protecting the environment,” says Tim Maag, Vice President and General Manager of Mortenson’s Wind Energy Group.

“Wanzek is excited and honored to be selected as the balance-of-plant contractor on the Foxtail and Freeborn Wind Projects for an industry-leading renewable energy utility company such as Xcel Energy. Building upon the teamwork and success of the recently completed Courtenay Wind Farm located near Jamestown, North Dakota, has been a top priority for us and we are proud to be working with a company that has made long-term commitments for providing renewable energy solutions to meet their customer’s energy needs as well as spurring local economic growth so close to our headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota,” shares Earl Collins, President Wanzek Construction.

More than 700 Upper Midwest construction jobs are expected to be created over the next three years, in addition to hundreds more through suppliers and other support.

Xcel Energy wind expansion

Xcel Energy is pursuing 1,850 megawatts of wind energy in the region over the next four years, which will power nearly 1 million homes. Xcel Energy will own 1,050 megawatts of the new wind energy, originally announced in late 2016, and obtain the rest through power purchase agreements.

The company is able to significantly increase the amount of wind generation on our system effectively and without compromising service reliability due to sophisticated wind forecasting technology and the recent completion of Midwest transmission projects connecting wind-rich areas to the larger grid.

Blazing Star 1 and Blazing Star 2 projects

Mortenson Construction will build two projects totaling 400 megawatts and using approximately 200 wind turbines. Blazing Star 1 will be built in 2019 with Blazing Star 2 construction scheduled for 2019 and 2020.

Mortenson is also working on Xcel Energy’s 600 MW Rush Creek Wind Project in Colorado, the largest single-phase wind farm built in North America.

Foxtail and Freeborn Wind Projects

Wanzek Construction will build the Foxtail Wind Farm and the Freeborn Wind Farm. The projects total 350 megawatts, using approximately 175 turbines. Construction for the Foxtail Wind Farm will occur in 2018-2019; Freeborn Wind Energy will be built in 2020.

Contractors for projects proposed in South Dakota will be selected at a later date. Construction dates are contingent upon additional local and state regulatory approvals.