Xcel ‘investing big’ in wind over 7 states

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — Xcel Energy Inc. will undertake the nation’s largest multistate expansion of wind energy over the next five years, with 3,380 megawatts of new capacity expected to come online in seven states.

The multibillion-dollar build-out will see wind energy account for nearly 35 percent of Xcel’s total generation capacity and solidify its status as the nation’s No. 1 utility provider of wind power.

“We’re investing big in wind because of the tremendous economic value it brings to our customers,” Ben Fowke, Xcel’s chairman, president and CEO, said of the plan. “With wind energy at historic low prices, we can secure savings that will benefit customers now and for decades to come.”

In total, Xcel said the 11 announced wind farms should save customers nearly $8 billion over the 30-year projected life of the projects. The new wind capacity, along with expansions in both utility-scale and distributed solar generation, will help Xcel meet a projected 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2021.

“Our plan delivers on both economic and environmental fronts, as we provide customers the cleaner, renewable resources they want, while continuing to deliver the reliable and low-cost energy they need,” Fowke said.

Officials said the new wind power capacity will come from the construction of company-financed and -built wind farms, as well as through power purchase agreements with independent wind energy developers.

Roughly a third of the new capacity — 1,230 MW — is proposed for Xcel’s southwestern service territory, where Xcel made filings yesterday to build a 522-MW wind farm in Roosevelt County, N.M., and purchase 708 MW of wind power from two NextEra Energy Resources projects in Texas.

Last week, Xcel confirmed it would more than double wind energy capacity additions in its Upper Midwest territory, with four new projects coming online by the end of the decade in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The 800 MW of new capacity would join 750 MW of wind farms announced last year to serve Xcel’s Upper Midwest customers (Energywire, Sept. 23, 2016).

The company is also building Colorado’s largest wind farm to date, the 600-MW Rush Creek project covering parts of four eastern Colorado counties. That project, approved by Colorado regulators last October, is expected to deliver commercial power in 2018.