Northern States Power Co (NSP) is proposing how it will spend as much as $8.5 million a year to promote wind, solar and hydro projects in its service area. The company's Renewable Energy Development Fund was created out of Minnesota's 1994 Prairie Island legislation, which allowed NSP to store nuclear waste in return for 425 MW of wind capacity by 2001 and a further 400 MW by 2012. NSP's proposal for spending the fund has been put together in time to meet a July 15 deadline to seek approval for the first project from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. NSP hopes to use the fund for commercially viable projects for immediate production, rather than for research and development -- although NSP is not required to buy a funded project's output. Cost-effective projects which promote Minnesota's economic health will be given priority.