Xcel Energy plans wind energy expansion of 30 percent

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Already named the top utility for wind energy by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Xcel Energy is seeking to expand its wind power production capacity. The Minneapolis-based power company said increasing its wind capacity would deliver benefits to both customers and the environment by investing in a zero-fuel-cost form of electricity that produces no greenhouse gases.

Officials with Xcel said this move was made possible by the competitive price of wind energy when compared with traditional forms of power generation as well as favorable public policies, including the extended federal production tax credit (PTC).

The company submitted to state regulators proposals to purchase at least 1,500 MW 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 on track to reduce its carbon emissions by 28 million tons, or more than 31 percent by 2020.

Should the projects be approved, Xcel expects that more than 20 percent of its total energy mix will be supplied by wind. Xcel is seeking approval of the following projects from state regulators throughout its service territories:

Upper Midwest: Three 200-MW projects in Minnesota and North Dakota, increasing the total to 2,400 MW. 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 MW located in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, increasing the total to more than 2,200 MW. The additions will save Texas-New Mexico customers up to $590 million in fuel costs over 20 years.

Colorado: One project totaling about 200 MW, increasing the total to nearly 2,400 MW. 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 MW of wind power.

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