PSC to hold 'conversations' on renewable energy | Prairie Public Broadcasting

PSC to hold 'conversations' on renewable energy

Nov 7, 2016

Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann (l), Julie Fedorchak and Brian Kalk.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission is looking at holding a series of conversations with the public – to discuss renewable energy

This comes after Xcel Energy announced it is going to be developing four new wind farms – three in Minnesota, one in Dickey County, North Dakota. In a news release, Xcel said it would save customers “hundreds of millions of dollars” in energy costs over the next 20 years.

"I didn't know about this until I saw the press release," said Commissioner Brian Kalk. He said Xcel has not yet filed a wind farm permit application with the PSC.

"I think the Commission has held very strongly to its philosophy that, if you need energy, we'll look at it," said Kalk. "If it's low cost, then will make the appropriate determination."

Kalk also takes issue with Xcel’s claims about savings.

"What frustrates me is the driving of the message that wind is going to save customers $20 million," Kalk said. "And once the press release got out, I had calls from Dickey County, asking what's going on."

"Their message seems to be to keep driving wind projects, no matter what," Kalk said.

Kalk believes ratepayers need to be asked what they think.

"If the state of North Dakota wants a 20 percent mandate for renewable energy, so be it," Kalk said. "Right now, we don't. We had a 10 percent goal, which we've long since met."

Commission chairman Julie Fedorchak agreed.

"All of that is happening without nearly enough conversation, or understanding, amongst the paying public," Fedorchak said.