- Xcel Energy has proposed a 100%-renewable power option available to all customers, with key features designed to meet the needs of businesses expanding in Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
- The option includes a mix of solar and wind resources, and in addition to asking the Public Utilities Commission to authorize the program, Xcel has also requested regulators approve a portion of wind and solar projects coming online in 2016 to support the program.
- Xcel said it wants to target business customers with sustainability programs as the green power option will deliver a verifiable method to track renewable energy use.
Building on the success of its Windsource renewable energy program, which generated 173,000 MWh of energy sales last year, Xcel Energy has asked Minnesota regulators to approve a 100% renewables option for customers. The program would also leverage the utility's growing solar program, which it believes will be among the nation's largest.
“Our customers want more options when it comes to energy use, and this new program will help them meet their sustainability goals,” Xcel Energy-Minnesota President Chris Clark said in a statement. The program, Renewable*Connect, "will give customers a new choice for wind and solar energy, flexible terms and no up-front costs.
In addition to allowing customers the option of choosing all renewable energy, Xcel touted the program's ability to provide price predictability as the fuel charge is tied to the wind and solar energy used in the project. Customers in the program would sign month-to-month, five-year or 10-year contracts.
Xcel also said that in addition to reviewing the overall program, it is asking regulators "to approve a portion of wind and solar projects coming online in 2016 for the program, with the resources dedicated to the equivalent amount of electric demand of program participants." To begin, the program will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. As Xcel adds new wind and solar projects, it intends to expand the program.
Business customers will be able to verify renewable energy use, and Xcel Energy said it will seek Green-e certification from the Center for Resource Solutions, and retire Renewable Energy Credits (REC) associated with the wind and solar projects on behalf of participating customers.
The RECs will subsequently be registered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System.
“Sustainable energy options are an advantage for businesses expanding in our region. Our region is a leader in many aspects of sustainable energy and this program will meet business’ needs,” said Michael Langley, CEO of Greater MSP. “It will be another tool for regional economic development.”
Xcel's PUC filing also included incentives for customers who have signed up for a separate electric vehicle meter, who will receive exemptions from some program charges. And businesses that locate or expand under the existing Business Incentive and Sustainability Rider are also exempted from some program charges, the utility said.
Minnesota's review is expected to last about a year, Xcel said, and customers could begin signing up in 2017.