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Xcel Energy to build wind project in Nobles County

WORTHINGTON -- Xcel Energy and enXco announced Friday plans to construct a 201-megawatt wind farm in Nobles County. The project will consist of 134, 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbines, which will produce enough power to serve approximately 66,500 homes.

The more than $500 million project will be developed and constructed by enXco, with ownership transferred to Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company, once it's completed in 2010.

In a press release issued by Xcel Energy, CEO Richard Kelly said the partnership with enXco will help Xcel meet its goals in wind energy production.

"Xcel Energy already is the nation's No. 1 wind power provider, and this agreement advances our commitment to meet aggressive renewable energy requirements," Kelly said.

Rep. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, said the wind farm will be based largely in Wilmont Township, in close proximity to the Fenton Wind Project, a 137-turbine farm in southern Murray and northern Nobles counties. That project, finished a year ago, was also developed by Xcel Energy.

Magnus said the announcement will result in a boost to the entire region.

"This is a lot of jobs," he said Friday morning. "Our restaurants, our hotels and motels -- this was really a gift to them to keep economic development moving."

According to national averages provided by the American Wind Energy Association, a 200-megawatt wind energy project would be expected to create approximately 200 construction jobs, 13 long-term operation and maintenance jobs and 400 manufacturing jobs. It would be expected to produce approximately $600,000 in annual farmer/landowner revenue.

The Nobles Wind Farm project will help the state reach its 25 by 25 goal -- to have 25 percent of its energy come from renewable resources by 2025.

"More wind power means more clean energy and additional opportunities to create green jobs related to this type of development," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the release.

Much work has to be completed before the Nobles Wind Project is expected to be operational in December 2010. A timeline released by Xcel Energy said the company will file with Minnesota regulators for approval in December, with enXco to begin filing for project permits at the same time. Regulatory action is expected in mid-2009, with groundbreaking slated for early 2010.

Each General Electric tower is 262 feet tall and features 126-foot-long blades.

Friday's announcement by Xcel Energy coincides with a 150-megawatt Merricourt Wind Project planned in Dickey and McIntosh counties in southeast North Dakota.