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Xcel Energy Announces Plans for Solar Connect Community Garden in Ashland

Community solar gardens continue to grow in Wisconsin. Xcel Energy has announced plans to develop a third, one-megawatt solar garden in Ashland. The garden will be part of Solar Connect Community, Wisconsin’s largest community solar garden program.

If sufficient customer interest is demonstrated, the 
Ashland garden will be built in 2019 by OneEnergy  Renewables, a leading developer of community and utility-scale solar projects across the country. The solar garden will be located on property near Xcel Energy’s Ashland service center.

“This past year, we’ve had tremendous support for our 
Solar*Connect Community program from both residential and business customers,” said Mark Stoering, president, Xcel Energy, Wisconsin. “They have told us they want more options when it comes to their energy and this program allows them to support locally sourced solar energy and receive bill credits at the same time.”

The program’s first one-megawatt community solar garden was energized in October 2017 in Eau Claire, and construction of a one-megawatt garden in the greater La Crosse area is planned for 2018.

Xcel Energy Photo      A racking system is built prior to the installation of about 3,000 solar panels that make up Xcel Energy’s first one-megawatt Community Solar Garden in Eau Claire. That project was energized in October of 2017, and a second one-megawatt garden is planned for the La Crosse area this year. The third garden is proposed for construction in Ashland by the fall of 2019.

 

 

 

Alliant Energy to Build English Farms Wind Farm

Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company will add more clean energy with the acquisition of the English Farms Wind Farm.  The company finalized an agreement with developer Tradewind Energy for the 170-megawatt project, located in Poweshiek County in central Iowa.

“Wind energy is a win for Iowans,” said Doug Kopp, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa Energy Company. “The benefits of this project help customers through reductions in emissions and fuel cost. It gives landowners lease payments to help on the farm and it helps communities through increased local tax revenue for schools and community services.” Alliant Energy will build and own English Farms Wind Farm, with major construction starting in 2018. This is one of several wind farms the company is building to deliver cost-competitive, clean energy to customers.

Alliant Energy received approval in 2016 to add up to 500 megawatts of wind energy in Iowa. The company has requested a similar wind expansion from the Iowa Utilities Board again in 2017. With these combined projects, customers will get more than one-third of their energy from wind by the end of 2020. This overall wind expansion represents a roughly $1.8 billion investment and adds up to 1,000 megawatts of new wind generation in Iowa. Together, that’s enough to power up to 430,000 Iowa homes a year.

MGE Receives Approval To Move Ahead With Largest Wind Farm To Date

Madison Gas and has received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to construct, own and operate a 66-megawatt (MW) wind farm near Saratoga, Iowa. The
approximately $107 million project will be MGE’s largest wind farm to date—delivering energy to power approximately 47,000 homes. The decision by the PSCW enables MGE to continue advancing the company’s clean energy goals by increasing its use of renewable energy and further reducing carbon dioxide emissions as laid out in its Energy 2030 framework.

“MGE is committed to increasing renewable energy and driving carbon out of our energy supply mix,” President and CEO Jeff Keebler said. “We’re working to achieve a more sustainable energy supply mix using the best, most cost-effective technologies as they become available.”  Consisting of 33 wind turbines, the Saratoga Wind Farm will be located about 200 miles west of Madison, Wis. This site was chosen for its strong winds and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure, making it well situated for delivering clean energy to MGE customers.  “New wind turbine technology delivers greater efficiency, providing more electricity per turbine,” Keebler added.  “The economics of both the location and turbine technology will provide affordable, clean energy to MGE customers for years to come.”

MGE anticipates construction will begin in the spring of 2018, with the Saratoga Wind Farm online by the end of 2018.

PSC Approves Brown County Bioenergy Project

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) has approved a conditional $15 million Focus on Energy grant to BC Organics, LLC, for an innovative bioenergy system in Brown County. The system will produce renewable natural gas from dairy farm manure and other waste. The project will reduce the need to landspread raw manure, protect sensitive groundwater and surface waters in northeastern Wisconsin and provide positive economic benefits to participating farms.

At the direction of Governor Walker, the PSC, Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collaborated to develop a request for proposals (RFP) on innovative anaerobic digester systems that could produce renewable energy, remove nutrients from manure, protect water quality, and reduce pathogens.

BC Organics was recommended unanimously by the evaluation team comprised of expert staff from the PSC, DNR, DATCP, UW-Madison and Focus on Energy. BC Organics must obtain all of the necessary state and local regulatory approvals before construction may begin and includes an odor control plan designed to minimize impacts on neighboring landowners.

The consortium consists of 24 members led by Wisconsin based Dynamic Concepts (Waukesha), along with WEC Energy Group (Milwaukee), US Biogas LLC (Plymouth), and BioStar  Organics, among other Wisconsin based firms.

The project’s proposed location is northeast of Holland, near Green Bay, and is co-located with a proposed landfill owned by Brown County.  It has commitments from nine Wisconsin farms with over 22,000 animal units, with the capability to expand to include additional farms in the future. The facility is expected to begin operations by January 1, 2019.

The project involves the construction of multiple anaerobic digesters with capability to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure and food waste, and eventually landfill gas. The estimated energy output of 5.7 million therms is equivalent to the home heating needs for 7,600 Wisconsin homes. The RNG will be injected into the interstate natural gas pipeline system for use
as a heating and transportation fuel.

Alliant Energy Acquires Ownership Interest in Great Western Wind Farm

In June, EDF Renewable Energy announced the signing of the Purchase and Sale Agreement by which Alliant
Energy Corporation will acquire a 50% ownership interest in the 225 megawatt Great Western Wind Project.
Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval and customary conditions precedent.

“EDF RE is a renewable energy leader, and we are proud to establish a partnership with them,” said Alliant Energy Vice President of Business Development Joel Schmidt. “Our 50 percent cash equity ownership interest in this Project aligns with Alliant Energy’s strategy to invest in renewable energy.”

EDF RE remains involved in the project as a 50 percent co-owner and provides management services. EDF Renewable Services provides a portion of the current operations and maintenance services as well as 24/7 remote monitoring from its Operations Control Center.

Located in Woodward and Ellis counties near the base of the Oklahoma panhandle, Great Western Wind is comprised of 30 V117 (unit capacity of 3.3 MW) and 63 V100 (unit capacity of 2.0 MW) wind turbines supplied by Vestas.  The Project achieved commercial operations in December 2016; electricity generated is provided to Google under a long-term Power Purchase Agreement.

Raphael DeClercq, Vice President of Portfolio Strategy for EDF RE, commented, “The sale of equity stakes represents an integral part of EDF Renewable Energy’s business model, allowing us to maintain a balanced ownership
portfolio in order to assist in the funding of new project development. We are pleased to forge a new business relationship with Alliant Energy on this first transaction. We are confident that our expertise as a developer and operator complements Alliant Energy’s renewable energy strategy.”

EDF Renewable Energy is one of the largest renewable energy developers in North America with 9 gigawatts of
wind, solar, storage, biomass and biogas projects developed throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Minnesota Commission Green Lights Xcel Energy’s Midwest Wind Expansion

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved Xcel Energy’s plan for the largest expansion of wind energy in the Upper Midwest. The North Dakota Public Service Commission will review the plan later this year. The new wind projects will save Xcel Energy customers billions of dollars in fuel and other costs, as compared to the
costs of other energy sources. Seven new wind farms are slated to be built in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and
South Dakota and will be operational by the end of 2020. The projects will provide enough energy to power more than 800,000 homes, increasing Xcel Energy’s regional wind output by approximately 70 percent.

“We’re investing in low-cost wind energy to provide the benefits of clean, affordable energy directly to our
customers,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “These projects deliver on our plan to keep
energy costs low while also reducing carbon emissions by more than 60 percent in the coming decades.”

With these new wind farms, Xcel Energy is locking in low-cost, carbon-free energy. As no fuel is needed for
wind farms, the cost of electricity from the wind farms is not affected by fuel price spikes. Customers receive the
benefit of low, stable electricity prices from these wind farms for the 25-year life of the projects.

“Our strategy delivers the long-term value our customers tell us they want,” said Clark. “These projects give
our customers both lower bills over the long term and predictable prices in addition to a cleaner energy mix.”

Xcel Energy will own 1,150 megawatts of the new wind energy; the remaining 400 megawatts will be sold to the
company under long-term power purchase agreements.

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