4/4/2014 10:14:00 AM Invenergy has new CF, Hampton plans in front of PUC
by Ken Haggerty
Details of proposals for a expansion of the Cannon Falls Invenergy plant and a new Invenergy plant north of Hampton were before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on March 25 and 27. Commissioners heard evidence in St. Paul.
Invenergy was one of the five finalists bidding to be considered to meet a request from Xcel Energy for new power supplies.
Invenergy has proposed a new third turbine at its site in the Cannon Falls industrial park to provide 179 MW of power. The turbine would be located just to the north of the existing two turbines and would use, like the other two, natural gas to power the turbine, with fuel oil as a back-up supply.
Invenergy also has proposed building a new facility with two gas powered turbines (similar to the existing Cannon Falls site) to provide 357 MW of power. This site would be adjacent to the new CapX2020 substation under construction north of Hampton. It would be off of 215th Street, west of Hwy. 52. Invenergy said it has a purchase agreement in place for the site in documents that were part of the PUC hearing. It would be in Hampton Township.
The PUC directed Xcel that it wants to see the proposal from Geronimo for 100 MW of power, generated from solar power panels at up to 20 sites adjacent to substations as part of this new energy package.
The PUC told Xcel it should get refined bids from Invenergy and other bidders also proposing natural gas fueled turbines before making a final decision. The other bids include an Xcel plan for two natural gas 215 MW units at its Black Dog unit in Burnsville that it wants to convert from coal burning and a Calpine bid to expand its existing natural gas fired site in Mankato by 290 MW and 55 MW.
The entire proposal is complicated with Xcel also forced to consider how it will meet mandated alternative renewable energy supply levels in coming years. Also thrown in the mix are possible combinations of proposals (for example Xcel suggested approval of Black Dog and using the Cannon Falls Invenergy proposal).
Further complicating the request for new energy providers by Xcel is that Xcel has also been questioned on how much energy it really needs. Demand has been steady to down in recent years with a slower economy and more conservation of energy. Some large industrial users and even Invenergy questioned the need to build large new plants.
Invenergy argued in its documents to the PUC that its proposals are uploaded in a portion of the grid that are under-capacity and also touted its ability to be flexible to get something up and running quickly,
The existing Cannon Falls Invenergy plant is used as a "peak provider." It is fired up only when Xcel needs extra energy in times of peak demand, usually really hot or really cold. The original Cannon Falls energy proposal was met with strong resistance based on fears of environmental and health impacts. The City of Cannon Falls, Goodhue County and the Cannon Falls School District have been beneficiaries of agreements with Invenergy both from property taxes and payments made in lieu of property taxes.