Late last year, Community Power's submitted comments to state regulators that Xcel’s stakeholder engagement sessions should not be held exclusively during work hours on a weekdays in order to be more accessible to a wider range of interested individuals.
Likely in response to this comment, Xcel Energy held a "non-technical public informational session the evening of Tuesday April 2nd at the Wilder Center in Saint Paul. (See Facebook Event Page) Xcel Intended for the event to be held in January but it was postponed twice due to unfortunate timing with weather circumstances.
On the website they created for the event, Xcel stated the company would provide an introduction to their 15-year energy plan for Minnesota and “give members of the public an opportunity to provide feedback and learn how to get involved on an ongoing basis”.
Xcel is required by the state to come up with a 15-year energy plan that looks at a wide range of scenarios of ways how they can meet customers’ energy needs for the years 2019-2034. As an organization, we want to ensure the scenarios Xcel studies includes giving a fair consideration for distributed renewable energy generation as well as questioning whether a utility with a 100% carbon free goal should be buying new natural gas plants .
The open house event ended up being great opportunity to ask Xcel questions about its plans for the future with a good attendance from community members eager to share what they would like to see.
Photo of the years Xcel currently plans to retire a number of their thermal baseload plants.
To learn more about what Xcel’s Resource Plan is, what is at stake, why it matters and what we deserve from Xcel, click here.
To read some highlights on what we heard from Xcel on April 2nd, click below.
XCEL'S STATEMENT ON OWNERSHIP OF WIND FARMS
“We have requested from the commission for owning several wind farms. Wind is the most economic choice for our customers and we will be owning those which is good for our shareholders and that is a win-win for both.”
XCEL RESPONDING TO QUESTION ON THEIR MANKATO NATURAL GAS PLANT PURCHASE
“We actually see the acquisition of Mankato as necessary to integrate renewable energy. As you know the sun is not always shining, the wind is not always blowing and so when those resources go offline, we need a resource which can react like that, so gas allows us to do that. So we see this as a bridge resource until those technologies that I mentioned evolve and we’ve got something that can help integrate renewables. And right now, we see gas as a necessary step. And I’d also note in our view it is not a new resource. We do have a power purchase agreement for these units, as I mentioned earlier we will be buying this from Southern Power. And they were going to sell the unit. And so they came to us and said ‘hey look, we want to sell this’ and we have an opportunity as part of our contract with them, this power purchase agreement and we could make a first offer before they put it out on the market. And so, since this is part of our long-term plan … we did some modeling that suggested that there are customer benefits by us owning it so we got that proposal in front of the MN PUC right now.”
Xcel said The Mankato Energy Center is not in the IRP because Southern Company can not wait around until the process is finished. Xcel also said it is not the only acquisition outside of the Resource Planning process that Xcel has done. Xcel claimed to have done cost comparison studies of the Mankato Energy Center with other options in a way that mimicks the IRP process. Speaking toward a comparable situation, t hey also claimed to have done a comparative analysis which concluded a combined cycle natural gas plant at Sherco to be the best option.
XCEL’S DISTRIBUTION LEVEL MODELING
Here is the response I got when I clarified my question to be about Xcel’s having the software to do modeling at the distribution level:
“The model we use currently is "Strategist". It is a resource plan model it is not a granular locational driven model. So, Strategist will not account for the value of a distributed resource in a specific location. But, I think that is where resource planning is evolving. Historically, our task is to identify size, type and timing. And location has never really come into play. However, obviously as we move toward more distributed resources and things, that is changing. And we are actually going to start using a new model starting this summer. We are replacing Strategist and working internally with transmission, distribution and stakeholders to figure out how we can best account for these issues going forward."
“Last November was our first time submitting an integrated distribution plan. We are the only utility to date who has submitted that, we will be filing it annually and that process is certainly open at the commission as well.” The distributed generation forecast is on Docket Number 18-251
Xcel is now treating energy efficiency as a supply side resource in response to previous stakeholder input.
Xcel states that Carbon Fee and/ or tax proposals are not the ideal way to address carbon emissions noting that they would pass the costs onto customers and would look like the bad guy.