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Energy & Environment

PSC says no to an "advanced determination of prudence" for Xcel's MN solar project

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has denied Xcel Energy’s application for an “advanced determination of prudence” for 187 megawatts of solar power to be built in Minnesota.

An “advanced determination” would make it easier for Xcel to recover those costs from North Dakota customers in a subsequent rate case.

Commissioner Brian Kalk says Xcel was upfront with the North Dakota commission, saying this project would help it meet Minnesota mandates for renewable energy. But he says Xcel didn’t prove that this kind of generation was the “least cost alternative.” And Kalk says the Commission’s actions send a message.

"Don't come in front of us unless you do least-cost planning, and you need it," said Kalk. "The North Dakota jurisdiction is going to hold true to those principles -- least-cost planning and reliability. North Dakota customers should not pay for stuff they don't need."

"This is about Minnesota saying, 'We want more solar, and you need to add it by this date,'" said PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak. "This decreases the case for any North Dakota generation down the road."

The action doesn’t prevent Xcel from building the solar project. But Kalk says the utility will have to show benefits to North Dakota customers when it files its next rate case.

"This doesn't mean we don't like solar," said Kalk.

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