Minn. utility seeks to acquire ND wind project

Minnesota utility seeks to acquire 150 MW wind farm project in north-central North Dakota

Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Xcel Energy Inc. announced Tuesday that it plans to take over a long proposed 150-megawatt electricity-generating wind farm near the Canadian border in north-central North Dakota.

Mark Nisbet, the North Dakota manager for the Minneapolis-based utility, said the company is seeking approval from North Dakota regulators to acquire the permit for the Border Winds project in Rolette County.

The project was first considered in 2005 and was being developed by Sequoia Energy U.S. Inc., a unit of Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Sequoia Energy. In 2011, the North Dakota Public Service Commission approved a site plan for the project, which was expected to be completed in 2012.

Jerry Lein, a commission manager in Bismarck, said Sequoia had done no construction work on the project. The site plan permit issued by North Dakota regulators is valid for four years and can be transferred to another company, he said.

Lein said Tuesday that North Dakota regulators had not received formal notice of Xcel's plans to take over the project.

Sequoia did not respond to telephone calls from The Associated Press on Tuesday requesting comment.

Nisbet, of Xcel Energy, said the proposed project still includes 66 wind turbines placed over 50 square miles of land north of Rolla in Rolette County, which shares a northern border with Manitoba. Previous utility filings said Sequoia had intended to invest about $360 million in the project.

Xcel has not released projected costs.

Nisbet said RES America Developments Inc. would develop the project and transfer ownership to Xcel Energy. Nisbet said construction is slated to begin next year, with completion set for 2016.

If completed, the wind farm would increase North Dakota's wind energy generation by about 9 percent. North Dakota is currently generating 1,672 megawatts of wind power, PSC records show.

Xcel announced last month that is was seeking approval from regulators to acquire power from two proposed wind farms in Minnesota, near the cities of Windom and Austin, and one in North Dakota near Jamestown.

PSC records show that about 20 wind farms projects are proposed in North Dakota that would add almost 6,200 megawatts of wind power generation in the state.

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