The company announced its intent to issue a request for proposals by April 15, 2014, for large-scale solar projects totaling up to 150MW to be installed by December 31, 2016, prior to a reduction in the federal Investment Tax Credit for solar.

Northern States Power president and CEO Dave Sparby said, "We are excited to develop solar resources that provide customer value and offer new customer choices. We plan to leverage the economies of large-scale systems to keep the cost as low as possible for customers."

The omnibus energy bill passed last spring by the Minnesota Legislature and signed into law by Goernor Mark Dayton requires investor-owned utilities to acquire 1.5% of retail electricity sales from solar energy by 2020.

Xcel Energy estimates that it will need around 300MW of solar capacity to meet the standard.

Xcel Energy officials expect that approximately one-third of Minnesota’s 2020 solar requirement will be met through new customer offerings and solar projects receiving funding through the company’s Renewable Development Fund.

The new program offerings include a community solar gardens program, a new Solar Rewards program, and the Made in Minnesota program administered by the Department of Commerce.

"We already rely on renewable energy to provide our customers with clean and affordable electricity," said Sparby.

"Through our solar programs, we will provide interested customers with even more renewable energy choices while ensuring that all customers have access to a reliable and reasonably priced electricity system." Xcel Energy plans to propose a second round of large-scale solar acquisition in 2017 or 2018 to acquire the necessary solar resources to ensure compliance with the standard by 2020."

"We look forward to working with large-scale solar project developers and our rooftop customers to grow solar energy in Minnesota in a safe, cost-efficient manner," Sparby added.