- The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Monday authorized Xcel Energy to expand its Renewable Connect program from a pilot program to a full-time offering, and to roll its Windsource offering into that program as well.
- Xcel will supply the expanded program with 230 MW of new renewable resources, including 180 MW of wind and 50 MW of solar.
- Xcel told the PUC when it proposed expanding the program that its Renewable Connect offering had a waiting list of 400 residential customers, and Windsource had a waiting list of over 2,200 customers.
Despite the high volume of residential customers Xcel says are waiting to sign up, it is commercial and industrial customers that account for the bulk of its Renewable Connect program.
The first phase of the program sold out in less than a year, according to the utility.
According to the Star Tribune, almost 90% of energy consumed in the Renewable Connect program goes to large business consumers. And Xcel says it has 10 more waiting to join.
The PUC, in its order, said it would "approve Xcel’s proposed program structure and terms and conditions with several modifications."
Xcel had proposed contract lengths up to 20 years, but the PUC sad it would limit the maximum term length to 10 years.
"Although it is understandable that some large commercial and industrial customers prefer a longer term with fixed costs, Xcel has not demonstrated that those customers would drop out of the program, or that the committed resources would otherwise go unsubscribed, if 15 and 20 year contracts are not offered," the commission said.
In other states where Xcel signs renewables contracts, the PUC noted, the longest length is 10 years. However, regulators said that if the utility does find that a significant number of corporate customers are unwilling to sign contracts of ten years or less, Xcel can "petition the commission to modify the program structure based on that information."
In current and future resource plans, regulators said Xcel will be required to break out the resources dedicated to the Renewable Connect program and "provide a thorough discussion of the present and forecasted resources that are necessary to meet present and forecasted demand for the program."
Regulators concluded Xcel's 230 MW of new renewable energy capacity is a small percentage of the total new resources anticipated in the company's most recently filed resource plan, and said it expects to have "sufficient oversight to approve or reject the addition or allocation of resources."
A spokesperson for Xcel told Utility Dive that the timing of the new resource acquisitions is still being determined.