Xcel Energy plans to add up to three natural gas-fired units to fleet

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is proposing adding up to three 215 MW natural gas-fired peaking units to help meet power generation needs during times of high electricity demand. The plan was submitted in response to proceedings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that concluded Xcel will need to add 150 MW of power capacity in 2017 and up to another 350 MW of capacity by 2019.

One of the units would be built in Burnsville, Minn. at the company’s Black Dog plant to replace the facility’s coal-fired generating capacity, which is scheduled to be retired in 2015. That unit would begin service in 2017.

A second and third plant could be built at an undetermined site near Hankinson, N.D. and put in service in 2018 and 2019 if required, according to the company.

Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota President and CEO Judy Poferl stated in a release the units would be the best fit for the company’s need for power because the natural gas-fired turbines could be brought online quickly and efficiently to meet peak demands.

Regulators in Minnesota and North Dakota will review Xcel’s proposal along with proposals from other parties also being submitted to determine which plan would create the best deal for customers. The company has requested a Certificate of Need for the Burnsville unit and is also seeking approval from the North Dakota Public Service Commission seeking approval for the two potential units in that state.

The resource acquisition process is the first for Xcel in multiple years for resources other than wind power. The company was recently named the leading provider of wind power in the U.S. for the ninth consecutive year.

Xcel also has a separate request for proposals for new wind generation to take advantage of the federal production tax credit ongoing that will not be affected by the plans to add the natural gas-fired units.

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