State vitality watchdogs say Xcel’s megasolar mission is just too expensive

Xcel Vitality has extra to fret about than deteriorating photo voltaic economics for its $575 million megafarm deliberate in Becker, Minn.

The Minnesota Division of Commerce and the Minnesota Lawyer Common’s Workplace say the mission is overpriced and wasn’t bid correctly, leaving ratepayers overpaying for solar energy.

Commerce and the AG’s Workplace have really useful that the Minnesota Public Utilities Fee (PUC) reject the Sherco photo voltaic mission as at present structured.

The mission’s per-kilowatt-hour value “is dramatically increased than current utility-scale photo voltaic tasks within the area,” the AG’s Workplace mentioned in a PUC submitting. “If the mission have been accepted, clients could be compelled to pay lots of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} extra over the lifetime of the mission than if Xcel had as a substitute procured competitively priced photo voltaic era.”

Xcel rejects these conclusions.

“We predict our mission has at all times been a well-priced mission for our clients and delivers nice worth for the vitality transition,” mentioned Christopher Clark, the corporate’s president for Minnesota and the Dakotas. “We hope that as we offer extra data to the Division of Commerce and the legal professional normal that they may reassess.”

The Sherco photo voltaic mission would assist exchange a few of the energy misplaced when Xcel closes its three huge coal mills in Becker, which can happen between 2023 and 2030.

The Commerce Division and the Lawyer Common’s Workplace mentioned Xcel’s bidding course of yielded solely three bids, together with the corporate’s personal. The opposite two have been tossed as a result of they didn’t meet bidding necessities.

“Xcel’s RFP [request for proposal] was poorly designed, creating pointless limits which decreased the variety of bids acquired and consequently doubtless inflated the general worth,” the Commerce Division concluded.

The Lawyer Common’s Workplace mentioned Xcel “undermined” the aggressive course of by limiting the mission’s location to the Sherco web site; and by limiting the mission’s possession to the corporate itself.

The Sherco mission would make the most of Xcel’s grid interconnection rights and infrastructure in Becker — a bonus, the corporate says. With these hyperlinks in place, the mission would keep away from lengthy and probably expensive delays that always include connecting to the regional grid.

And federal guidelines require Xcel to personal any mission that makes use of present grid interconnection rights at Sherco, the corporate mentioned.

“We now have precious transmission rights on the Sherco crops,” Clark mentioned. “We have to personal that mission.”

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