Xcel Energy offers $23 million in renewable energy grants

Xcel Energy invites applications for $23 million in grants for renewable energy research and development projects and for energy production projects. Notices of intent are due June 5, followed by applications July 12.

The utility’s Renewable Development Fund issued a solicitation May 16 declaring hydro an eligible technology in the R&D projects category. Other eligible technologies include wind, biomass, biofuel, and solar photovoltaic. Hydro is not eligible to compete for the second category, for energy production technologies, which focuses on biomass, solar photovoltaic, and solar thermal.

Half of the $23 million is to be allocated to renewable energy R&D projects. Eligible research and development technologies include any from the fund’s two prior funding cycles, pilot projects, and prior-funded research and development projects positioned for �next level� development.

In 2004, Xcel Energy made a $2 million grant to help develop the 8.98-MW Lower St. Anthony Falls hydro project (No. 12451) in Minneapolis. Construction of that project is scheduled to start in July, with commissioning planned for the end of 2008. (HNN 3/12/07)

The other half of the $23 million to be made available through the new solicitation is to be allocated to energy production projects to facilitate introduction of new renewables technologies into Xcel Energy’s service territory.

The ratepayer-financed fund was created under a Minnesota law that allows Xcel to store spent nuclear fuel. Xcel said it expects the RDF program to: increase the market penetration of renewable energy resources at reasonable costs; promote the start-up, expansion, and attraction of renewable energy projects and companies; and stimulate R&D into renewables technologies that support that mission.

Xcel Energy said it would announce selected proposals in October. All projects selected are subject to approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The commission is expected to issue decisions in March 2008 on individual proposals selected by the RDF board. June 2008 is the target date for completing grant contract negotiations. Funds are to be disbursed to winning applicants after that date.

The solicitation can be obtained from Xcel Energy’s Internet site: www.xcelenergy.com/rdf. A pre-bid meeting is planned at Xcel Energy offices in Minneapolis at 9 a.m. June 5, the same day notice of intent to bid forms are due.

Proposals are due by 4 p.m. July 12 to Xcel Energy �- Renewable Development Fund, Attention: Debra Paulson, 414 Nicollet Mall � GO 7, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1993. Questions can be submitted in writing to Paulson, Fax: (1) 612-330-7601; E-mail: debra.j.paulson@xcelenergy.com.

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