Northern States Power may have to develop new wind plants following a Minnesota Department of Public Service finding that 400 MW of additional wind power is in the public interest. The department finds that adding 400 MW of wind would yield $12.5 million in savings over a 15 year period compared with the use of other technologies, assuming the federal renewable energy production tax credit is extended. The finding was included in comments filed by the department with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. "It will be interesting to see how the commission handles this," says Bill Grant of the Midwest office of the Izaac Walton League of America. From a straightforward legal perspective, any finding that wind is in the public interest almost compels the commission to call for the 400 MW. The department notes that it preferred to see NSP evaluate wind bids during its 1999 bidding process. Construction of the new plants may be required by a 1994 state law that allowed NSP to store nuclear waste near one of its nuclear power plants if the utility committed to investing in plants fuelled by wind and biomass. Under the law, NSP is required to acquire 425 MW of wind power, and if the Public Utilities Commission rules it is in the public interest, an additional 400 MW will be required.
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