EnXco, which has developed several Minnesota wind energy projects, plans to break ground on a major wind farm for Xcel Energy near Worthington this month, generating about 150 jobs.
The 201-megawatt wind farm, called the Nobles Wind Project, is expected to be up and running by the end of the year, the company said in an announcement Wednesday. The Nobles project includes installing 134 GE 1.5-megawatt turbines on farmland about 7 miles west of Worthington in the state's wind-rich southwest corner.
It will be the state's second-largest wind project, by total megawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The largest is the Fenton Wind Power Project that enXco owns in Murray and Nobles counties.
EnXco is a California-based subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles Co. in France. It technically transferred ownership of the project to Xcel Energy Wednesday, meaning the Minneapolis-based utility now owns two wind farms in Minnesota. Xcel is in the process of developing a third wind farm with enXco that it will also own, a 150-megawatt project called Merricourt in southeastern North Dakota. Xcel also buys wind-generated electricity from other sources.
Laura McCarten, regional vice president for Xcel Energy, said the Nobles Wind Project will move Xcel toward its target of generating 30 percent of its retail electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. Most of the electricity it generates will probably be used by customers in the Twin Cities metro area, she said.
Xcel is the country's largest wind provider -- meaning it provides more wind-based electricity to customers than any other utility -- but Minnesota has lost some ground as a wind leader in recent years. The state added just 56 megawatts of new wind power last year -- far below other states, according to the latest AWEA numbers. Iowa, by comparison, installed 879 megawatts and Indiana added 905 megawatts. Minnesota now ranks No. 5 for wind capacity, behind Texas, Iowa, California and Washington. Oregon is nipping at the state's heels at a very close No. 6.
Xcel and enXco have teamed up on other projects before, including the Grand Meadow Wind Farm, Fenton Wind Project, Viking Wind Project and Chanarambie Wind Project -- all in Minnesota. They also worked on the Peetz Wind Project in Colorado.
Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683