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Xcel Energy to purchase upgraded Northern Wind site from ALLETE Clean Energy

Randy Fordice's picture
Senior Media Relations Representative Xcel Energy

Communications and public affairs professional adept at developing and implementing strategic communications programs. Overall experience includes corporate communications, marketing...

  • Member since 2016
  • 19 items added with 19,401 views
  • Jun 10, 2021

Xcel Energy will move forward with plans to purchase a repowered wind project totaling 120 megawatts  in southwest Minnesota from ALLETE Clean Energy, as we continue to rebuild older wind sites to increase the amount of renewable energy our customers receive in the Upper Midwest. Rebuilding older wind technology with newer, more efficient equipment increases the amount of energy delivered at those locations, saving money for customers over the life of the projects.   

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the acquisition of the Northern Wind site, consisting of the former Chanarambie and Viking wind projects, as well as the Rock Aetna development project, on Thursday.

This purchase, along with other repowering projects approved in late 2020, was spurred by the Commission’s request for projects that could help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession by putting people to work, increasing the amount of renewable energy in the region, and lowering costs for customers. Installing new wind turbines at existing wind sites can increase electricity production by more than 10%, saving customers money over the 25-year lifespan of projects.

“Projects like the Northern Wind site will help deliver additional low-cost, carbon-free wind energy for our customers while also creating good jobs in the Upper Midwest,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy—Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “This project is part of our broader strategy to reduce carbon 80% by 2030 and furthers our vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.”

“Repowering and expanding the Northern Wind project is the latest example of our customer focused clean energy strategy delivering value to our many stakeholders,” said ALLETE Clean Energy President Allan S. Rudeck Jr. “The redevelopment and sale of Northern Wind to Xcel Energy illustrates our disciplined approach to capital allocation and supports our broader plans to grow our capabilities, unlock future investments in the clean energy space, while providing sustainable solutions to customers.”


Projects will create jobs to assist with COVID-19 recovery

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission asked energy providers to bring projects forward to help the region’s economy recover from the COVID-19 recession. In response, Xcel Energy is proposing to build the Sherco solar project several years earlier than planned and has already received approval to repower several other older wind projects throughout the region. Rebuilding the wind projects totals about $900 million overall. Collectively, these projects will help create jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and increase the amount of wind and solar energy delivered to our customers.

ALLETE Clean Energy also recently completed a repowering project at the nearby Lake Benton I wind site in southwest Minnesota, which sells energy to Xcel Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement.

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Peter Key's picture
Peter Key on Jun 20, 2021

The International Energy Agency devoted a page to wind repowering in its World Energy Investment 2020 publication. A chart on the page puts the amount spent on repowering U.S. wind farms at around $3.8 billion in 2017; $2.1 billion in 2018; and $4.1 billion in 2019. Also, according to the chart, U.S. wind farm operators only needed to spend $1 billion a year from 2020 through 2022 to repower assets reaching the end of their 20-25 year lifespans.

Europe, however, seemed poised for a repowering boom. The chart shows the amount spent on repowering European wind farms was about $2 billion in 2017; a little less than $1 billion in 2018; and from around $200 million to $300 million in 2019. From 2020 through 2022, according to the chart, European wind farm operators would need to spend about $6 billion a year to repower assets reaching the end of their 20-25 year lifespans. 

The IEA said it expected global spending on repowering to grow until it reaches close to $10 billion a year, although it didn't say when that would happen. It said global spending would need to be around $7.8 billion annually from 2020 through 2022 to repower assets reaching the end of their 20-25 year lifespans.

I checked to see if the IEA updated its repowering statistics in its World Energy Investment 2021 publication, but I couldn't find a mention of repowering in the document. 

Nevelyn Black's picture
Nevelyn Black on Jun 21, 2021

Xcel Energy is investing is wind across the country.  Along with the windy plains of Minnesota, the utility invested $2 billion toward wind generation facilities in Texas and New Mexico.  It’s no wonder they set new regional wind energy records.  Their energy mix for that region was 51.1% in March, which are the highest monthly wind numbers recorded so far.

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