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Xcel looks to end New Era Wind contracts

Xcel Energy could begin the process of pulling out of a power purchasing agreement with New Era Wind Farm as early as Monday, a utility director said.

New Era was given until Sunday May 12 to resolve a delay in the production of a 78-megawatt wind farm in Goodhue County that is causing the company to default on an agreement to sell generated power, said Jim Alders of Xcel Energy.

If New Era provides no resolution as of the May 12 deadline, Xcel will begin the process of cancelling its purchasing agreement with the company, Alders said.

The target of a protracted debate over regulations and environmental impacts, the proposed wind farm in Goodhue County has been a four-year, $15 million headache for the project's various developers.

Peter Mastic, owner of New Era, indicated in an April 17 letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that the company was looking to assign its power purchasing agreement to wind projects operated in other counties in order to fulfill its contracts with Xcel and help recover some of its investment.

"New Era continues to believe that an assignment of the power contracts to a third-party site would be a reasonable compromise and solution to the difficult circumstances surrounding this project," Mastic wrote.

But after review, Xcel decided not to accept New Era's assignment proposals, Alders said.

Although he could not say how long it would take to cancel the contracts with New Era, Alders said Xcel will be "very careful and thoughtful" during the process.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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