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Dispersed Renewable Generation Study released

June 17, 2008

Dispersed Renewable Generation Study released

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2008
Contact: Bill Walsh (651) 296-7531

Findings identify opportunities for installing 600 MW of renewable energy throughout the state without disrupting the existing transmission infrastructure.

(St. Paul, MN…) The Minnesota Department of Commerce Office of Energy Security, today released the first phase of a statewide study of dispersed renewable generation potential, meeting a requirement of the Governor's Next Generation Energy Initiative passed by the 2007 legislature. The study goal was to identify a total of 600 MW of relatively-small sized renewable energy projects that could be operated in the transmission grid with little or no changes required to the existing infrastructure.

Dispersed renewable energy involves wind, solar and biomass projects that will generate between 10 and 40 MW of power. The second phase of the study will seek to identify an additional 600 MW of dispersed renewable energy and will begin in the fall of 2008.

"In order to meet the targets of Governor Pawlenty's Next Generation Energy Initiative, we need to increase the high-voltage transmission capacity in our state and use our existing transmission infrastructure more efficiently. This study gives us an excellent start toward reaching that goal," said Edward Garvey, Director of the Minnesota Office of Energy Security.

The Phase I study was completed by an analytic team lead by staff from the Office of Energy Security and Great River Energy in collaboration with the Minnesota electric utilities and with the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO). A technical review committee (TRC) of national, regional and state technical experts representing the national energy laboratories, MISO, wind and community energy advocates and Minnesota's utilities guided and reviewed the work of the analytic team.  Four TRC meetings, each a full day, and numerous conference calls were held throughout the course of the study to review and discuss the study methods and assumptions, potential project locations, model development, results and conclusions. The TRC achieved consensus on the project sites to be studied, on the modeling approach and on the key results and conclusions.

The study team developed the first state-wide models of Minnesota's entire electrical system including higher and lower voltage lines and the development of new methodologies to identify potential opportunities for dispersed renewable generation. The potential locations studied were based on public input, regional availability of renewable resources, current dispersed generation in the MISO queue, and access to existing transmission.

"Without the commitment and creativity of this group of talented transmission engineers and experts, this nation-leading study could not have achieved its goals," added Garvey. "We owe this team our gratitude for Phase I of the study and our encouragement for Phase II, which presents an even greater challenge as they attempt to identify another 600 MW of dispersed renewable energy."

The study can be accessed on the Minnesota Office of Energy Security website at www.energy.mn.gov .