Articles from Minnesota
Yesterday, Xcel Energy announced it would be seeking a massive 21.2 percent price increase on electricity over the next three years, meaning Xcel residential electricity customers will pay an additional $222 per year, according to the utility filing at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
The new rate case would be Xcel's second multi-year rate case since the state legislature allowed them in 2015. In 2017, the PUC approved a four-year rate deal for Xcel Energy that raised residential rates by 10.6%. That deal was retroactive to 2016, and it followed five consecutive years of rate hikes for Xcel. In both 2019 and 2020, Xcel proposed new three-year rate plans, with the last one calling for a total of $597 million in new revenue.
Resilient as bald eagles are, they are no match for wind turbine blades, whose spinning tips can reach speeds of up to 200 mph.
In June, state utility regulators who must approve the project made it clear they weren't satisfied with Big Bend's plans to locate turbines as close as 5.2 miles from the petroglyphs. The historical society and the Sioux bands wanted at least an 8-mile buffer. Apex Clean Energy, Big Bend's developer, revised the project so that all but two of the 50-plus turbines would be at least 7 miles from the petroglyphs.
The Jeffers Petroglyphs site in southwestern Minnesota is sacred to Indigenous people. A wind farm and solar project would diminish the integrity of its “historic and sacred features,” the Minnesota Historical Society argues. ...After hearing the complaints, Apex moved the wind turbines nearest to the petroglyphs from just over 2 miles to 5.2 miles away. But the historical society and the tribes want an 8-mile buffer, and they object to Apex's decision to significantly raise the height of the turbines along with the move.
Plan is rebuilding 5 wind farms to be more efficient.
"The project withdrew from its original point of interconnection due to unusually high transmission upgrade fees that were being imposed by the regional grid operator," said a spokesperson for NextEra Energy Resources.
Researchers believe that even if their cave count did turn up a few survivors, the naturalists might risk disturbing bats when they’re most vulnerable, said Gerda Nordquist, mammalogist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Best to just leave them alone,” Nordquist said. “There’s just nothing left to find.”
What started with just a few wind turbines 20 years ago, now turns out nearly 20% of Minnesota’s electricity. But the towering blades haven’t come without questions and controversy in rural Minnesota.
One of the citizens, Rhoda Obermeyer, asked what is the reason for the Met towers, and added that “we all know what is coming down the road,” suggesting it was wind turbines. Other concerns were about loss of property values, bird deaths, and crop spraying issues with wind turbines. The three CUPs concerning the Met towers were not the only conditional use permit to be considered by the commission.
According to utility documents filed by Xcel Energy for it’s Nobles Wind facility, it will cost approximately $445,000 (in 2009 dollars) per turbine to decommission the wind facility. This means it would cost $532,000 per turbine (in 2019 dollars) for each of the 134 turbines in operation at this facility, bringing the total cost of decommissioning the Nobles project to $71 million.
Wind generation through June of 2019 was actually 4 percent lower than through June of 2018, according to Energy Information Administration data. This decline in output comes even though there are more turbines in operation today than there were at this time in 2018.
The wind energy industry isn't immune to cyclical replacement, with turbine blades needing to be replaced after a decade or two in use. That has wind energy producers looking for places to accept the blades on their turbines that need to be replaced.
After a two-year fight, a new wind farm has finally been given the green light in southern Minnesota. But in Freeborn County, hundreds of neighbors are making some noise about it.
Increasing quantities of renewable energy result in increasing electricity prices because they are more expensive than conventional sources of electricity, like coal. Additionally Minnesota would still need backup sources of electricity, like coal and natural gas plants, to be available when the wind is not blowing, like during the Polar Vortex, or when the sun is not shining. As a result, Minnesotans must pay twice for electricity they use once.
A proposal to build a 100-tower wind farm in the southern portion of the county will be taken up by the county planning and zoning board April 25.
Wind speeds were less than forecast on those days, meaning power production was less than expected. Ice on turbines hampered wind production. ...Wind turbines are often programmed to shut down when the thermometer is 20 below to 25 below because equipment can be damaged if turbines continue running. Xcel receives 21 percent of its generation from wind in Minnesota and the Dakotas, and its turbines automatically shut down around 20 below. They were generally down during the nights of Jan. 29 and 30.
“When you give them a windmill, you give up rights on that land for the rest of your life,” Sandager said. “They can declare bankruptcy and you’re stuck with a pedestal and windmill that has no value. When you want to spray with an aerial or spray rig, you have to get their permission. If you want to hunt on your ground, you have to get permission. If you want to go four-wheeling on your farm, you have to get permission.”
On Wednesday, when the morning temperature in the Twin Cities was negative 24 degrees, wind energy provided just 4 percent of the electricity and utilized just 24 percent of its installed capacity in a region monitored by the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), a not-for-profit organization that ensures reliable, least-cost delivery of electricity across all or parts of 15 U.S. states, including Minnesota.
The Laborers’ union, representing several construction unions, asserted that the socio-economic benefits of Bitter Root would be “substantially diminished” by a lack of Minnesota workers. RES has used nonunion trades workers on other wind farms in Minnesota, and the Laborers’ union says those workers were mostly from out of state. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided the unions’ claims need a closer look.