Regulatory Update: Commission decision enables clean energy projects to compete with gas in forthcoming Xcel procurement

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On Thursday, October 5, 2023, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission heard a proposal from Xcel Energy for a process to acquire electricity generation resources stemming from the utility’s last Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Xcel will seek up to 800 megawatts of “firm dispatchable” resources, which provide electricity and capacity to Xcel customers.

Fresh Energy and partner organizations participated in the docket (#23-212), with the goal of ensuring that this resource procurement is technology-neutral, as required by a previous Commission decision, and allows for a fair comparison of clean energy portfolios with potential bids from natural gas plants.

The Commission’s verbal decision was closely aligned with Fresh Energy and partner recommendations. It made a number of important changes to Xcel’s proposal that will ensure the process includes a robust evaluation of what electric grid services a resource needs to provide to the system, and will allow all resource types, including wind, solar, battery storage, and demand response, to be considered in the process.

“Fresh Energy applauds the Commission’s decision to ensure a truly technology-neutral process for this resource procurement,” said Isabel Ricker, Director, Clean Electricity at Fresh Energy. “The Commission’s changes will allow for renewable and clean energy portfolios to compete with gas while also enabling important analysis of the contributions these resources can make to our evolving electric system. This analysis will be critical to inform future planning processes as the amount of renewable energy continues to grow in our electric system.”

We are looking forward to seeing the bids offered by Xcel Energy and clean energy project developers, expected in January of 2024. Fresh Energy and partners will continue participating in the evaluation and selection process over the next year.