Xcel Energy is seeking to acquire up to 250 MW of new wind generation in the Upper Midwest in a Request for Proposals (RFP) announced today. Xcel will consider purchasing energy output from new wind projects through a power purchase agreement or owning the wind generation assets.

Xcel will accept proposals of any size so long as they will be ready to be placed in service by December 31, 2012, the current expiration date for the Federal Production Tax Credit. Xcel explained the timing  and purpose of this request in the RFP and in its Application for Resource Plan Approval 2011-2015 (MPUC Docket E002/RP-10-825):

“Because the Federal Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, we believe we should continue to explore acquisition of wind power to capture PTC savings for our customers. However, we do not need to add wind power to comply with RES/REO milestones in the next five years. Requesting proposals for additional wind generation prior to the expiration of the PTC provides us with an opportunity to achieve pricing that remains cost-effective for customers under a variety of future scenarios. If the results of our bidding program do not provide adequate benefits we have the option to defer acquisitions and still stay on track with compliance.”

The RES/REO milestones are Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard and Renewable Energy Objective, which ultimately require Xcel to have 30% renewable energy by 2020.

Proposals are due by October 15, 2010. The full RFP is available here.