The administrative law judge overseeing a report for the Public Utilities Commission, as part of a process selecting future Xcel energy providers, is recommending that the solar project proposed by Geronimo move forward. Geronimo’s planned energy resources include at least four solar farm sites in Chisago County as part of a statewide solar energy collection network that could provide peaking power for Xcel in the near-term. Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman states, “Geronimo entered this bidding process as the sole renewable technology and beat competing offerors on total life-cycle costs.”
Lipman recommends that the Great River Energy proposal be combined with the solar plan, if the PUC finds that additional Xcel providers are needed to meet demand. With the release of this report the administrative law portion reviewing Xcel energy needs solicitation is complete. The MN Public Utilities Commission continues to accept comments on actual providers for Xcel future needs; but only from “official parties” registered in this case, until January 31. This next phase is basically the involved parties’ chance to take exception to conclusions in the administrative law report. ALJ Lipman states the Geronimo solar project-- in concert with Great River Energy’s proposed sale of existing capacity-- should get the PUC nod as the preferred Xcel plan.
Lipman states GRE emission levels will remain the same whether Xcel purchases excess capacity credits or not. The report goes on to state, Geronimo’s proposal won’t create any emissions or volatile organic compounds. The off-setting impacts of the solar plan will result in the net reduction of 94,133 tons of CO2, 116 tons of CO, 63 tons of NOx and many tons of additional known pollutants. Judge Lipman also states selection of the Geronimo proposal will “...provide benefits to society in a manner compatible with protecting natural and socio-economic environments.”
Lipman oversaw fact-finding on four total proposals that Xcel forwarded to the PUC as part of planning for future demands. The PUC will sign-off on which plan or combination of plans Xcel should pursue for 2018 needs. All the proposals Xcel received from energy providers could be effective and operational by 2016. ALJ Lipman also recommends there be a second round of competitive bidding for Xcel Energy needs beyond 71 MW that could arise in 2019 and beyond.