Minnesota Utility Offers Renewable Energy Grants

By Erin Voegele | March 08, 2013

Minnesota state law requires Xcel Energy, a utility operating within the state, to set aside money each year for its Renewable Development Fund. The RDF was created in 1999 as part of the 1994 Radioactive Waste Management Facility. Essentially, the law requires Xcel to contribute money into the fund for the casks of spent nuclear waste fuel being stored at its Prairie Island nuclear power plant.

The money comes from Xcel Energy customers. According to the company, it contributes $19.5 million in the fund each year. Currently, Xcel has up to $30 million available to invest in renewable energy projects and research focused on new ways to produce electricity from renewable sources.

The utility recently announced it is accepting grant proposals under the fund. According to information published by Xcel, grants are available for various-sized projects in three categories: energy production, research and development, and research funding for Minnesota institutes of higher education.

The last funding cycle tool place in 2007, when 91 project proposals were submitted. A total of 24 projects received a combined $22.6 million. Biomass, solar, hydro and wind projects are all eligible.

Active biomass projects that have received funding through the program include a feedstock pelletization R&D project sponsored by Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers, an R&D project sponsored by the University of Minnesota to provide guidelines for biomass removal from fields, a biogas system sponsored by RCM Digesters Inc., a project to demonstrate equipment to supply farm-grown trees to power plants sponsored by Energy Performance Systems, a gasification project sponsored by Coaltec Energy USA, an indirect wet biomass liquefaction system gasifier project sponsored by the University of North Dakota, a loss of mains project sponsored by Northern Plains Technologies, and a feedstock production, pre-processing and delivery system project sponsored by the U of M.

The application deadline is April 1. Additional information is available at http://www.xcelenergy.com/rdf

I wish you luck with your applications.