Major solar energy plan for Minnesota wins support over gas

In an unprecedented decision, a Minnesota judge this week held that utility supplier Xcel Energy should invest in the solar energy developer Geronimo Energy rather than in natural gas generators because that choice is the better economical and environmental deal for the state.

Judge Eric Lipman's ruling must be approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which initially ordered the proceeding to force energy companies to compete on price. The commission is expected to issue its final ruling in March.

Lipman said in the 50-page ruling, issued Tuesday, that the Geronimo project "will have numerous socioeconomic benefits, minimal impacts on the environment and best supports Minnesota's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases." 

The decision, if approved, would help Xcel fulfill its requirement to attain 1.5 percent of its power from the sun by 2020 under a new state energy law.

Geronimo Vice President Betsy Engelking said the decision marks a turning point for the solar industry because it is the first time that unsubsidized solar energy has gone head-to-head with natural gas resources and been selected as the best option.

"The judge decided that it was the best option for economic and environment reasons," Engelking told Al Jazeera. "Economically, the judge found that it was the lowest cost option offered."

If the decision stands, Geronimo plans to build roughly 20 solar arrays at a cost of $250 million.

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.


Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

Parker Wind Power Solutions - Core technologies to help you harness the wind… onshore and offshore

Parker Wind Power Solutions - Core technologies to help you harness the wind… onshore and offshore

Visit Booth #2886 at AWEA Windpower, May 22-25 in Anaheim, CA to see how Parker products, systems and services help you raise performance while reducing risk in wind energy environments. Parker has been on the forefront of windpower for over two decades, with solutions that touch virtually every critical function in the turbine. From integrated lube oil filtration systems and sealing technologies that make drive trains more reliable and bearings operate like new to compact blade pitch actuation systems that maximize rotor efficiency and minimize vibrations in the turbine. Parker has the solutions that make today's advanced and sophisticated wind power plants better and smarter. Case in point? Our high efficiency power conversion systems that deliver optimum power to the grid. While our scalable evaporative cooling system lowers overall system cost with up to 40% higher power throughput.