A utility in the U.S. midwest will start to spend more than US$16 million on renewable energy projects.MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, US, 2001-06-07 [SolarAccess.com] Xcel Energy will issue a formal ‘request for proposals’ next month, to seek proposals for renewable energy projects to be funded through its Renewable Development Fund. The utility recently submitted a draft RFP to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for approval. There is $16.5 million in the Fund, which is growing by $8.5 million a year. The fund was created in May 1999 to comply with a 1994 Minnesota law that permits storage of spent nuclear fuel at the company’s Prairie Island plant near Red Wing. The legislation requires Xcel to invest $500,000 each year into the fund for each spent-fuel storage container that is stored at the plant since 1999. Funding for renewable energy projects will be available for projects in commercial technology, experimental technology, and research and development. Following the initial round of funding, Xcel will solicit additional funding requests each year. Selection of applicants will be determined by an advisory board that has two representatives of Xcel Energy and two representatives from environmental organizations. The first funds are expected to be awarded later this year. Xcel Energy was formed last year by the merger of New Century Energies of Denver and Northern States Power of Minneapolis. It serves 3.2 million customers in 12 states, and has 13,300 employees and 15,000 MW of generating capacity at 19 coal plants, 20 natural gas plants, 2 nuclear reactors, 4 oil plants, 35 hydro plants and 3 refuse-derived fuel facilities. Xcel owns 75 percent of NRG Energy.