Yesterday the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel Energy’s plan for the largest expansion of wind energy in the Upper Midwest. The North Dakota Public Service Commission will review the plan later this year.
The new wind projects will save Xcel Energy customers billions of dollars in fuel and other costs, as compared to the costs of other energy sources. Seven new wind farms are slated to be built in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota and will be operational by the end of 2020. The projects will provide enough energy to power more than 800,000 homes, increasing Xcel Energy’s regional wind output by approximately 70 percent.
“We’re investing in low-cost wind energy to provide the benefits of clean, affordable energy directly to our customers,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “These projects deliver on our plan to keep energy costs low while also reducing carbon emissions by more than 60 percent in the coming decades.”
Investments deliver long-term value
With these new wind farms, Xcel Energy is locking in low-cost, carbon-free energy. As no fuel is needed for wind farms, the cost of electricity from the wind farms is not affected by fuel price spikes. Customers receive the benefit of low, stable electricity prices from these wind farms for the 25-year life of the projects.
“Our strategy delivers the long-term value our customers tell us they want,” said Clark. “These projects give our customers both lower bills over the long term and predictable prices, in addition to a cleaner energy mix.”
Xcel Energy will own 1,150 megawatts of the new wind energy; the remaining 400 megawatts will be sold to the company under long-term power purchase agreements.
- Freeborn Wind Energy, a 200 MW project located in Freeborn County, Minnesota, and Worth and Mitchell Counties, Iowa.
- Foxtail Wind, a 150 MW project located in Dickey County, North Dakota.
- Blazing Star 1, a 200 MW project located in Lincoln County, Minnesota.
- Blazing Star 2, a 200 MW project located in Lincoln County, Minnesota.
- Crowned Ridge Wind Project, a 600 MW project located in Codington County, South Dakota.
- Lake Benton Wind Project, a 100 MW project in Pipestone County, Minnesota.
- Clean Energy 1, a 100 MW project in Morton and Mercer counties, North Dakota.
All projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2020, qualifying them for 100 percent Production Tax Credit.
Benefits to landowners and local governments
In addition to the cost savings the projects will deliver, local landowners and governments will receive millions in lease payments and property taxes over the life of the projects. Xcel Energy estimates lease payments will exceed $7 million annually, with property tax contributions exceeding $8 million.
Up to 1,500 construction jobs are expected to be created through the projects.