Xcel Energy to buy 698 MW of wind energy from three states

Xcel, the biggest U.S. provider of wind power, plans to boost its wind farm capacity by about 14 percent to reduce fuel costs.

Xcel’s Southwestern Public Service unit is asking regulators for permission to buy power from almost 700 megawatts of wind farms in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, the Minneapolis-based company said.

The deal will save customers $590 million in fuel expenses over 20 years and the wind farms will generate power at costs lower than most of Xcel’s natural gas plants, according to Riley Hill, president and chief executive officer of Southwestern Public Service.
• 199 megawatts from NextEra Energy Resources/Mammoth Plains Wind Energy Center located in Dewey and Blaine counties, Okla.
• 249 megawatts from NextEra Energy Resources/Palo Duro Wind Energy Center located in Hansford and Ochiltree counties, Texas.

• 250 megawatts from Infinity Wind Resources/Roosevelt Wind Ranch in Roosevelt County, N.M., between the towns of Dora and Elida.

The price per megawatt-hour of energy generated at these wind facilities will be less than the per-megawatt-hour price of most of the company’s natural gas-fueled generation, according to Southwestern President and CEO Riley Hill. Over the 20-year terms of these agreements, Xcel Energy expects to save $590.4 million in fuel costs, Mr. Hill said.

“We started shopping for more wind energy in March after seeing some very good prices on the market,” Mr. Hill said. “We are making these acquisitions purely on economics and the savings we can deliver to our customers.”

Mr. Hill said the favorable pricing is partly the result of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC) that Congress extended January 1 for one year, applicable to facilities on which construction is started before the end of 2013.

Xcel Energy currently has close to 1,500 MW of wind energy capacity connected to its Texas-New Mexico transmission and distribution network, which spans the Panhandle and South Plains regions of Texas, six eastern and southeastern counties in New Mexico, and portions of Oklahoma and Kansas. Xcel Energy purchases more than 600 of those megawatts through long-term contracts.

The three additional contracts will more than double the company’s contract wind resources, and will push the total Texas-New Mexico wind capacity beyond 2,200 MW.

The company solicited additional wind resources through a request for proposals process that opened in March. This process generated more than 75 proposals that included the winning bidders. The deals are for energy only, and do not include the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs).

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