Xcel Energy growing its Upper Midwest wind portfolio

Xcel Energy has committed to growing its Upper Midwest wind portfolio by 70%, adding nine proposed new wind farms and 1,850 MW of new wind capacity to its portfolio.

The two projects, in addition to the under-construction Blazing Star 1 project, are part of the company’s low-cost, clean energy strategy that will add 1,850 MW of renewable energy in the region over the next two years.

“Our customers want clean, reliable, affordable energy. That’s why we’re investing in projects like Blazing Star and Dakota Range that will help keep bills low, build on our clean energy leadership, and provide economic benefits for the region,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

The Blazing Star Wind projects, located near Hendricks in southwest Minnesota, will include nearly 200 wind turbines and cover approximately 70,000 acres. However, less than 100 acres of land will be used for the turbines, while the rest remains for agricultural production. Geronimo Energy developed both phases of the Blazing Star projects, and  Mortenson Construction will build the project, starting this year through 2020.

“Geronimo Energy has developed approximately 1,200 MW of wind and solar projects in the state of Minnesota that are currently in operation or under construction,” said David Reamer, President for Geronimo Energy. “The Blazing Star projects are a continuation of our commitment to our home state, and we look forward to Xcel Energy bringing the projects into operations, which will provide significant economic benefits for the local and state economies.”

Local landowners and governments will benefit from the investment in the Blazing Star wind farms, with local property taxes totaling an estimated $36 million over the life of the projects, and landowners receiving more than $60 million in lease payments.

About 200 construction workers will build Blazing Star 2, which will require 10 to 15 full-time employees to operate and maintain. Workers will build access roads and install concrete foundations beginning in spring 2019 when field conditions allow. Turbines and blades will be installed in 2019 and 2020. Construction on an operations and maintenance building began in 2018.

The combined Blazing Star 1 and 2, along with the Dakota Range wind projects will provide 700 MW of low-cost, clean energy to customers, enough to power more than 367,000 average Midwestern homes. This project is part of the company’s strategy to deliver 85% carbon-free electricity by 2030 in the Upper Midwest, and a step towards meeting its new vision of zero-carbon electricity by 2050.

The Dakota Range Wind 1 and 2 project, located in Codington and Grant counties in northeast South Dakota, will include 72 wind turbines providing enough electricity to power more than 160,000 homes. The project will provide local and state property taxes totaling more than $36 million over the life of the project and $39 million in landowner lease payments. About 200 construction workers will build the project in 2020 to 2021. Apex Clean Energy developed the Dakota Range project.

“Decarbonizing the grid is at the heart of our mission, which comes to fruition through working with visionary partners such as Xcel Energy,” said Mark Goodwin, president and CEO of Apex Clean Energy. “Dakota Range delivers on all key aspects of a clean energy future, including competitive pricing, strong community benefits, and zero carbon emissions.”

Here’s a summary of Xcel Energy’s wind projects under development in the Midwest:

• Blazing Star 1 and 2 (Minnesota) — 400 MW
• Crowned Ridge (South Dakota) — 600 MW
• Dakota Range 1 and 2 (South Dakota) — 300 MW
• Freeborn Wind (Minnesota and Iowa) — 200 MW
• Foxtail Wind (North Dakota) — 150 MW
• Glen Ullin Wind (North Dakota) —100 MW
• Lake Benton Wind (Minnesota) —100 MW

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