Xcel Energy submitted to state regulators a plan to add up to 150 MW of large-scale solar resources in its Upper Midwest service territory by the end of 2016. Xcel Energy is proposing that a significant portion of Minnesota’s solar standard be met through large-scale projects, which are more efficient and less expensive than rooftop solar and smaller distributed systems.
The company notified the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission of its intent to issue a request for proposals by April 15, 2014, for large-scale solar projects totaling up to 150 MW to be installed by Dec. 31, 2016, prior to a reduction in the federal Investment Tax Credit for solar.
Per an omnibus energy bill passed last spring by the Minnesota Legislature, investor-owned utilities must acquire 1.5 percent of retail electricity sales from solar energy by 2020. Xcel Energy estimates it will need 300 MW of solar capacity to meet the standard.
Xcel expects that about one-third of Minnesota’s 2020 solar requirement will be met through new customer offerings and solar projects receiving funding through the company’s Renewable Development Fund. The new program offerings include a community solar gardens program, a new Solar Rewards program, and the Made in Minnesota program administered by the Department of Commerce.
Xcel Energy plans to propose a second round of large-scale solar acquisition in 2017 or 2018 to acquire the necessary solar resources to ensure compliance with the standard by 2020.