Xcel secures 3 large-scale solar projects near Minnesota

By Editor


Xcel Energy has announced that it has signed deals with three energy developers to construct up to three solar panels near North Branch, Marshall and Tracy near Minnesota to be completed by 2016, reports StarTribune business.

Xcel plans to go ahead with at least two of the projects, a 62-megawatt system near Marshall proposed by NextEra Energy and a 25-megawatt array near Tracy planned by Juwi Solar.

The largest of the proposed projects is a 100-megawatt solar generator near North Branch, to be built by Community Energy Resources.

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According to Xcel’s opinion, the project may be unnecessary, if utility regulators give final approval to a planned, 100-megawatt solar project from Edina-based Geronimo Energy that would also serve Xcel customers.

These three new projects will together generate considerable amount of renewable energy. Xcel wouldn’t own the solar farms, but would purchase all the energy, sufficient to power 41,000 homes, under the 25-year PPA.

Solar panels at Gibbs Dairy near Altura, Minnesota
Solar panels at Gibbs Dairy near Altura, Minnesota

The prices resulting from competitive bids will provide substantial benefit to the customers and avoid 7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, noted, Dave Sparby, CEO, regional operation, Xcel.

According to a 2013 state mandate, investor-owned utilities are required to get 1.5 percent of renewable power from solar electricity by 2020, which is a prime requirement of the state.

Both the North Branch and Tracy solar projects plan to use tracking system solar panels that move on an axis, which allow solar arrays to collect more energy.

All three deals are awaiting approval from Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, but preliminary approval to Geronimo Energy’s planned Aurora Solar project, to be built at up to 20 locations across Minnesota has been given.

It is a natural gas-based generating proposal and Xcel recently asked the commission to consider whether the latest solar proposals are a better deal than the Aurora project.

Rajani Baburajan
[email protected]

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