United States

United States

In the shadows

While battling in public against being required to build more wind, Northern States Power (NSP) is apparently quietly considering a voluntary and separate expansion of its ongoing Buffalo Ridge development to provide electricity for green pricing projects. "It has been discussed here, but there has been no decision to do it or not do it," says a NSP spokesperson.

A decision by NSP to meet consumer demand for green power outside its mandated wind development (main story) would please Minnesotans For an Energy-Efficient Economy (ME3). Last year it fought NSP's attempts to market green power at a premium price to other utilities because it would come from the mandated power at Buffalo Ridge, which consumers were already paying for. "We were very alarmed about that. Ratepayers are paying for generation on Buffalo Ridge and expect to be getting it," says J Drake Hamilton, policy co-ordinator for ME3.

NSP ignored the protests and signed a contract with United Power Association (UPA) of Elk River, Minnesota, to provide green power as needed on a month to month basis, says Gary Connett of UPA. About 600 customers have bought the power at a $0.03/kWh premium, he adds.

Were it to announce plans to expand the Buffalo Ridge project, the utility's motive for doing so could be questionable. It might be trying to divert attention away from the 400 MW battle, says Bill Grant of the Izaac Walton League of America. "I think they may be trying to get people to look the other way by creating this ruse of green pricing," he warns.

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