Xcel Energy announced that the region’s largest expansion of wind energy will be developed by local companies. Golden Valley, Minn.-based Mortenson Construction will construct the Blazing Star 1 and Blazing Star 2 wind farms in southwest Minnesota. Fargo, North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction will build the Foxtail Wind Farm in North Dakota and the Freeborn Wind Energy project located primarily in Iowa with some turbines in southern Minnesota.
More than 700 Upper Midwest construction jobs are expected to be created over the next three years, in addition to hundreds more through suppliers and other support.
“Xcel Energy has been the leading wind energy provider for more than a decade,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “Hiring local companies for our wind projects delivers the benefits of clean energy and creates economic development opportunities for our communities. Additionally, these projects will save our customers billions of dollars in fuel and other costs in the coming decades.”
Xcel Energy is pursuing 1,850 MW of wind energy in the region over the next four years, which will power nearly one million homes. Xcel Energy will own 1,050 MW of the new wind energy, originally announced in late 2016, and obtain the rest through power purchase agreements.
The company is able to significantly increase the amount of wind generation on our system effectively and without compromising service reliability due to sophisticated wind forecasting technology and the recent completion of Midwest transmission projects connecting wind-rich areas to the larger grid.
“We are excited to continue our strong relationship with Xcel Energy. Together our teams are delivering low cost renewable energy to Xcel Energy’s customers, creating economic growth in local communities and protecting the environment,” said Tim Maag, Vice President and General Manager of Mortenson’s Wind Energy Group.
Blazing Star 1 and Blazing Star 2 projects
Mortenson Construction will build two projects totaling 400 MW and using approximately 200 wind turbines. Blazing Star 1 will be built in 2019 with Blazing Star 2 construction scheduled for 2019 and 2020.
Mortenson is also working on Xcel Energy’s 600 MW Rush Creek Wind Project in Colorado, the largest single-phase wind farm built in North America.
Foxtail and Freeborn wind projects
Wanzek Construction will build the Foxtail Wind Farm and the Freeborn Wind Farm. The projects total 350 MW, using approximately 175 turbines. Construction for the Foxtail Wind Farm will occur in 2018 to 2019; Freeborn Wind Energy will be built in 2020.
Contractors for projects proposed in South Dakota will be selected at a later date. Construction dates are contingent upon additional local and state regulatory approvals.