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Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Xcel Energy has proposed to expand its wind power production significantly. The move is made possible by competitive prices and the extended federal Production Tax Credit.
“Wind energy is a valuable, low-cost substitute for natural gas and other fuels right now,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “These projects will lower customer costs by at least $800 million over their lives and will provide a valuable hedge to rising and volatile fuel prices for well into the future.”
The company has submitted to state regulators throughout its service area proposals to purchase at least 1,500 megawatts of wind resources, a 30 percent increase in overall wind capacity. The wind power expansion, along with previous conservation, renewable energy and power plant improvement projects, also puts Xcel Energy on track to reduce its carbon emissions by 28 million tons, or more than 31 percent by 2020.
“These projects demonstrate how to do environmental leadership the right way,” Fowke continued. “Both economic and environmental benefits can and should be achieved.”
If the projects are approved, the company expects that more than 20 percent of its total energy mix will be supplied by wind.
Xcel Energy is seeking approval of the following projects from state regulators throughout its service territories:
- Upper Midwest: Three 200-megawatt projects in Minnesota and North Dakota, increasing the total to 2,400 megawatts. The additions will save Upper Midwest customers more than $180 million in fuel costs over 20 years.
- Texas/New Mexico: Three projects totaling almost 700 megawatts located in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, increasing the total to more than 2,200 megawatts. The additions will save Texas-New Mexico customers up to $590 million in fuel costs over 20 years.
- Colorado: One project totaling approximately 200 megawatts, increasing the total to nearly 2,400 megawatts. The addition will save Colorado customers more than $142 million in fuel costs over 20 years. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will decide this fall on whether to approve another 350 megawatts of wind power.
Late last year Congress extended the PTC to projects that begin significant construction activities by the end of 2013. If approved by regulators, construction on the projects will begin immediately in order to qualify for the federal renewable energy tax credits. All projects are scheduled to be in service by the beginning of 2016.