Latest News

AED grants awarded

Again this year Otter Tail Power Company has granted nine $1,500 awards to qualifying organizations in its service territory for purchasing automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Each of the company’s Customer Service Centers selected an AED grant recipient from its area. Read more

Solar garden options rolling out for Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota

Paul Norton drives an electric car and likes the idea of getting clean energy from the sun. But putting solar panels on his family’s New Hope home wasn’t in the cards.

Like many people who have considered solar, Norton and his wife, Martha, didn’t want to borrow $20,000 or more to install rooftop panels and wait years for the payback.

Now, they don’t have to.

Centrally located shared solar is a new, and unusual, option for residential customers of Xcel Energy in Minnesota. People like the Nortons who want cleaner energy are signing up for community solar gardens — with no upfront cost. The first wave of projects is expected to be built next year.

“Ever since it has come out that we have a greenhouse gas problem, I have wanted to do something,” said Norton, who signed up for a Minnesota solar garden planned by Able Energy of River Falls, Wis. Read more

Homeowner electric rates may rise to rescue taconite plants

Residential customers of Minnesota Power would pay more for electricity each month to help taconite plants and paper mills survive an onslaught of global competition under a plan to be filed today with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

The rate re-jiggering, authorized by the 2015 Minnesota Legislature, would see the average Minnesota Power customer's household electric bill go up 14.5 percent, or about $11.45 per month.

An average homeowner, who uses about 750 kilowatts of electricity, would see their monthly Minnesota Power bill go from about $79 per month to $90.45.

Other customers — most businesses, government agencies, schools, etc. — would see their rates go up by a flat fee of $11.45 per meter, per month, an increase of between 1 and 4 percent.

The extra money paid by most customers would help offset a 5 percent cut in electric rates for 11 of the largest electric customers in the Minnesota Power service area — all of them taconite plants and paper mills. Read more

Xcel proposes green-only electricity as customer option

Corporate and other customers of Xcel Energy Inc. in Minnesota will have the option of signing long-term deals to get their electricity from wind and solar farms under a proposed program called Renewable Connect announced Thursday by the utility.

The program, which requires state regulatory approval, would be open to all customers. But key features are aimed at large business power users that have corporate sustainability targets or wish to market themselves as powered by renewable energy.

“It is something we have heard from our customers that they are really interested in,” said Laura McCarten, a regional vice president for the Minneapolis-based utility. Read more

Report: Minnesota efficiency program returns $4 for every $1 invested

•Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) generates at least $4 in benefits for every dollar spent, according to a new report from the state's Commerce Department.
•Conducted by energy consulting firm Cadmus, a cost-effectiveness assessment found a total net benefit of about $3.3 billion from lower utility costs and environmental impacts, HometownFocus reports.
•A second, economic impact assessment was also completed, finding a total net benefit of more than $5.9 billion in new economic output and nearly 55,000 job years. Read more

Xcel seeks 9.8 percent electric rate hike in Minnesota over three years

Electric bills of Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota are going up — again.

The state’s largest power company on Monday requested a 9.8 percent electric rate hike phased in over three years. By 2018, a typical electric customer’s annual electric charges would be $132 higher if state regulators approve the increase.

Xcel’s 1.2 million Minnesota electric customers face an almost-certain interim rate hike of 5.5 percent in January, or about $60 per year, plus a smaller bump in 2017, bringing the total to 7 percent. Interim rate hikes are almost always approved but are subject to refund if the final authorized increase is less.

The next increase will follow five consecutive years of rate hikes by the Minneapolis-based utility, and consumer advocates said it is too much for people with stagnant incomes. Read more

Xcel Energy proposes infrastructure, reliability, carbon-free investments in electric rate case

MINNEAPOLIS – Xcel Energy today filed a rate case with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, requesting a rate increase over the next three to five years to continue infrastructure investments that provide customers with reliable and carbon-free electricity. The company is proposing a multi-year rate plan to give customers price predictability and continued affordability. These investments mean cleaner air, a better environment and a more resilient, flexible and reliable energy system that can deliver value to Xcel Energy customers for decades to come.

“Xcel Energy is continuing to invest in our infrastructure to ensure the long-term safety, reliability and diverse energy supply needed to serve our 1.3 million Minnesota customers,” said Aakash Chandarana, vice president, Rates and Regulatory Affairs, Xcel Energy Minnesota. “The proposal we put forward today will enable us to continue modernizing our system and deliver safe, clean, reliable energy for our customers.” Read more

Minnesota Power's Great Northern Transmission Line Reaches Another Milestone with Release of Final Environmental Impact Statement

DULUTH, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Minnesota Power announced today that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) have issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Great Northern Transmission Line (GNTL).

The issuance of the FEIS concludes the successful review of the project's environmental impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act and clears the way for a route permit decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in early 2016. DOE's proposed action is the issuance of a Presidential Permit that would authorize Minnesota Power to construct, operate and maintain the Great Northern Transmission Line, which would cross the Canadian-U.S. international border. Minnesota Power is a utility division of ALLETE (NYSE:ALE). Read more

Solar gardens raise zoning questions

Like many other Minnesota cities, the St. Cloud City Council this month voted to rezone some land to create a place for its first solar garden. Earlier this year, the Sauk Rapids City Council voted to enact a temporary moratorium on such projects.

Depending on your views of solar energy, you may be inclined to judge one city's actions as bad and the other's actions as good. But the reality is both cities did the right thing. Read more

Minnesota Power Plans to Produce More Solar Energy

DULUTH, Minn. - Minnesota Power is evolving – and has plans to use more solar energy.

At a forum Wednesday morning, representatives from the power company made the announcement for plans to build “solar gardens” in Duluth.

The gardens would generate solar power that would then enter the grid for customers in the area.

Minnesota Power’s energy output is currently 25 percent renewable energy, and their plans would bump that to a third renewable energy, a third coal, and a third natural gas.

Minnesota Power spokespeople say there is an increased demand for solar energy.

“Conserving energy and using it wisely is really the first step. And more renewable energy is a nice step to come along with that,” said Margaret Hodnik, the Vice President of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs with Minnesota Power. Read more