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North Dakota regulators approve transfer of 200-megawatt wind project to Xcel Energy

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BISMARCK, North Dakota — North Dakota regulators approved the ownership transfer Monday of an unfinished $300 million wind farm project in the southeastern part of the state to a Minneapolis utility.

The Public Service Commission approved the transfer of the Courtenay Wind Farm near Jamestown from Edina, Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy to Xcel Energy.

The three-member panel approved the 100-turbine project for Geronimo Energy in 2013, after the company agreed to downsize the proposal after safety concerns were brought up by the owner of a crop-spraying business in the area.

Xcel previously agreed to buy all power produced from the 100-turbine wind farm that has the capacity to power up to 105,000 homes. But regulatory filings said Geronimo Energy could not secure financing to construct the project.

PSC Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak and Commissioner Brian Kalk said the transfer of ownership will save ratepayers about $97 million over the life of the project.

"It cuts out the middleman," Kalk said.

The project covers some 21,000 acres in Stutsman County, or about 33 square miles, Geronimo Energy has said. The company has leased land from about 60 landowners in the county, and those leases are still in effect with the transfer to Xcel, the PSC said.

Kalk said the wind farm would be the first "asset" in North Dakota to be owned by Xcel, which has done business in the state for more than a century.

Dave Sederquist, Xcel's regulatory affairs manager, said construction would start this month and the project will be completed by the end of next year. Minnesota regulators approved the transfer earlier in the summer, he said.

The wind farm will provide about $850,000 in annual tax revenue for Stutsman County and will create an estimated 200 construction jobs and up to 10 permanent jobs in North Dakota, the company said.

Xcel said the project will create about 200 construction jobs and about 10 permanent jobs for operations and maintenance. The company said the wind farm will generate about $850,000 annually in tax revenue to local governments.

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