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New Minnesota Law Supports Renewables, Requires Xcel Energy to Boost Funds and Install 300 Megawatts of Wind Power
A new law in Minnesota requires Xcel Energy, the state's largest electric utility, to double its contribution to a renewable energy fund, install at least 300 megawatts of new wind power capacity, and install renewable energy technologies whenever they are the most cost-effective resource. The legislation, signed into law in late May by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, affirms a settlement between Xcel Energy and the Prairie Island Indian Community that allows the continued operation of the Prairie Island nuclear plant by approving additional storage of nuclear waste at the plant. As part of the settlement, Xcel Energy will contribute $16 million per year to the state's Renewable Development Fund for as long as the nuclear plant continues to operate.
The new bill also provides an additional $4.5 million to subsidize small wind turbine installations totaling 100 megawatts in capacity, and provides $1.5 million to subsidize biogas projects on farms. It requires the state's utilities to develop formal plans to produce 10 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2015. And finally, the bill provides a $10 million grant and $2 million in annual funding to the University of Minnesota for research and development of hydrogen and other renewable energy sources. See Governor Pawlenty's press release.