Xcel Energy achieves wind energy milestone

Xcel Energy achieved a milestone when a record 1,713 megawatt-hours of electricity was generated by locally sourced, emission-free wind power, representing nearly 33 percent of the company’s Upper Midwest customer electricity needs.

“From our first purchase of wind energy in 1993 to the commissioning of our own Grand Meadow and Nobles wind farms in 2008 and 2010, we have been working toward this day,” said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. “We have learned a lot about how to successfully produce and integrate wind energy onto our system in a cost-effective manner for our customers.”

Wind farms produced almost 12 percent of the energy used by Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest customers in 2012, putting the company well ahead of milestones established by Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act. That law establishes that Xcel Energy, the nation’s No. 1 wind power provider, will generate 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, of which 25 percent will be from wind resources. That standard is more aggressive than the level set for other Minnesota utilities.

Xcel Energy is currently considering additional wind resources in Minnesota. On Feb. 15, the company issued a request for proposals for up to 200 megawatts of wind resources to come on line in time to qualify for the newly extended federal Production Tax Credit.

“We have positioned ourselves to be able to take a good project if available and if it makes sense,” Poferl said. “Extension of the credit may make cost-effective projects available to serve our customers.”

Wind power is an important part of a balanced energy portfolio for serving customers’ needs, Poferl said.