To preserve for its customers the environmental and cost benefits of 200 megawatts (MW) of wind power that was at risk of not being developed, Xcel Energy asked state regulators to allow the company to build and own the proposed Courtenay Wind Farm near Jamestown, North Dakota.
Regulators in Minnesota and North Dakota previously approved Xcel Energy’s plan to purchase power from the Courtenay project under a power purchase agreement with Geronimo Energy. However, Geronimo decided to exit the project for various reasons.
“The Courtenay project is an important part of our aggressive plans to reduce carbon emissions and double our commitment to renewable energy resources in the most cost-effective way possible,” said Chris Clark, president of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company.
“We are glad for the opportunity to preserve the benefits of this project for our customers. The Courtenay Wind Farm has the added value of locating an important generation resource in North Dakota, an important part of our service territory.”
Xcel Energy previously announced plans to deliver more than 60% carbon-free energy by 2030 through aggressive conservation efforts, doubling renewable energy resources and scaling back the use of coal. Ensuring the Courtenay project continues also will provide economic benefits in North Dakota and Stutsman County, where 100 wind turbines will be constructed across 25,000 acres on property leased from more than 60 landowners.
“The project will create an estimated 200 construction jobs and about 10 permanent jobs for operations and maintenance,” Clark said, “and it will provide approximately $850,000 annually in tax revenue to local governments.”
The Courtenay project is part of a 750-MW wind power addition, representing a 42% increase in Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest wind portfolio, which is a critical component of the company’s carbon emissions reduction plan. Together, the four projects will provide enough power to serve about 200,000 homes and save customers more than $225 million over the projects’ lives.
The other three projects in the package – the 200-MW Odell Wind Farm near Windom, Minnesota; the 200-MW Pleasant Valley project near Austin, Minnesota; and the 150-MW Border Winds Project near Rolla, North Dakota – are or soon will be under construction. Xcel Energy will purchase power from the Odell project, which was developed by Geronimo Energy and will be owned by Algonquin Power. RES America Developments Inc. is building the Pleasant Valley and Border Winds projects and will transfer ownership to Xcel Energy.
Xcel Energy, which recently was ranked the nation’s Number 1 wind power provider for the 11th consecutive year by the American Wind Energy Association, already has 1,800 MW of wind on its Upper Midwest system and is well ahead of meeting state renewable energy targets.
“We know our customers want to reduce the environmental impact of energy production while keeping costs affordable, and our plan to acquire the Courtenay Wind Farm project helps us meet those expectations,” Clark said.
Under the approved deal, Geronimo Energy will sell the Courtenay project, including leases for turbine sites, for an undisclosed price, and Xcel will purchase the turbines and oversee the construction.