- Xcel Energy filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for approval of 25 year power purchase agreements (PPAs) at undisclosed prices with NextEra Energy Resources for a 62 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project, and with Juwi Solar for a 25 MW PV project.
- Both would be online by late 2016 to meet the state's 31.5% renewables and 1.5% solar by 2020 mandate for Xcel, as well as to qualify for the federal investment tax credit.
- Xcel also signed a PPA with Community Energy Resources for a 100 megawatt PV project but has not filed for regulatory approval because, according to Xcel, it will not be needed if the PUC approves the already-proposed 100-megawatt Geronimo Energy PV project.
The three newest projects’ 187 MW nameplate capacity is roughly equivalent to a small-to-medium central station power plant. They would be built with single axis tracking to boost their late afternoon demand peak output.
The Minnesota PUC caused a stir in 2013 when it picked Geronimo Energy’s 100 MW Aurora Solar PV proposal, to be built at 20 sites across the state, as the lowest-priced entry in a competitive bidding proceeding that included three natural gas plant proposals.
Xcel asked the PUC to reconsider the Aurora project against the new solar bids, a request to which Geronimo objects.
Minnesota solar advocates continue to await use of the state’s landmark Value of Solar Tariff (VOST) methodology by Xcel.
An estimate used in VOST proceedings put the price of solar at $0.145 per kilowatt-hour, well above the residential retail electricity rate of $0.115 per kilowatt-hour. With federal and state incentives, the $0.145 rate is reportedly close to Minnesota’s 25-year levelized cost of energy.