An Open-Ended Renewables RFP in Minnesota Funds Biomass and Innovative Wind Applications

TitleAn Open-Ended Renewables RFP in Minnesota Funds Biomass and Innovative Wind Applications
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsWiser, Ryan H.
Secondary TitleCase Studies of State Support for Renewable Energy
PublisherLBNL
Place PublishedBerkeley
Pagination6
Date Published09/2002
Abstract

Xcel's Renewable Development Fund (RDF) in Minnesota announced the results of its first solicitation in early 2002. With over $9 million to spend on "commercial" projects, the solicitation sought grant requests from a variety of renewable technologies. Innovative Features The outcome of this solicitation in terms of megawatt-hours of renewable energy actually delivered will remain unclear for some time. Nonetheless, several interesting features of the solicitation bear mention:

  • the solicitation was open and relatively unstructured in an attempt to attract a wide variety of creative and effective project proposals;
  • the program administrator specifically gave weight to biomass proposals and innovative, smaller-scale wind applications that might otherwise not compete with larger-scale projects; the Fund developed an explicit method to compare the cost-effectiveness of proposals that were received; and
  • the Fund selected projects that were deemed to have a reasonable chance of obtaining a long-term power purchase agreement from the local utility to improve chances for project completion.

Results

  • The RDF received 28 proposals for commercial projects. The Board ultimately selected 8 projects – three biomass, one hydro, two solar, and two wind. If these projects come to fruition, the total funding of $9.8 million could result in 12 MW of new renewables capacity.
  • This is a reasonably high level of funding per MW installed. But it must also be remembered that RDF focused on smaller-scale, innovative projects to ensure a large number of winning bidders and a mix of renewable technologies. The program, for example, has funded several biomass digestion projects, a school-based wind project, and a "cooperative" wind project.
Keywordselectricity markets and policy group, energy analysis and environmental impacts department
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