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Wind picked for lowest cost -- Another 450 MW for Minnesota

Three wind projects for 450 MW of installed capacity are among the seven proposals selected in an all-source solicitation first launched by Midwest utility Xcel Energy in late 2001 for generation that is to come online between May 2005 and May 2009. The utility announced the winning bids, which total 1213 MW, last month.

The winning wind proposals, all located in Minnesota, are a 200 MW project by EnXco at Chandler Hills, a 100 MW project by FPL near Austin, and a 150 MW project in Lincoln County by PPM Energy, located near its 50 MW Moraine wind farm now under construction. Together they make up 37% of the nameplate capacity for the entire solicitation.

"The strong showing of wind power in this bidding process indicates that wind has become competitive with traditional electricity generating fuels," says Xcel vice president David Eves. The utility's Mary Sandok says the final selection still must pass muster by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which should occur by the end of this month.

Xcel had received 47 bids in February 2002 and pared that down in November 2002 to a shortlist of 18 power producers, including the 950 MW of wind. Among the wind projects not receiving the final go-ahead are additional projects by EnXco and FPL, and a 200 MW project proposed by Zilkha Renewable Energy.

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