Xcel Energy recently announced the nation’s largest multistate investment in wind energy with 11 new wind farms in seven states. Adding 3,380 megawatts of new wind generation will keep customer bills low now and in the future. It is an example of the significant value wind energy provides to customers and communities, as the country recognizes the inaugural American Wind Week.
AWEA says it is recognizing that wind power is now the largest source of U.S. renewable energy capacity and that it supports over 100,000 U.S. jobs across all 50 states.
The group is encouraging businesses, schools, governments and communities across the country to share what American wind power leadership means to them this week.
AWEA notes that close to 99% of U.S. wind power capacity can be found in rural communities such as Fowler, Ind., where AWEA is hosting a wind energy fair during American Wind Week. Fowler encapsulates how valuable wind power can be: Wind projects in surrounding Benton County, with just over 8,000 residents, have drawn over $2 billion in capital investment, according to AWEA.
“We started American Wind Week to honor the American innovators who taught the world how to harness the wind for large-scale electricity generation. They shaped the wind into a productive resource that makes all Americans safer and our economy more prosperous,” states Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “And we aren’t about to cede wind power leadership. Every day, U.S. wind workers put up an average of 10 more new turbines. Those turbines are the tip of a vast manufacturing supply chain, and they’re a rural economic development engine that spans all 50 states.”
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) launched American Wind Week, Aug. 6-12, 2017, to acknowledge U.S. leadership in wind power, along with economic and environmental benefits of wind as the industry expands to meet the country’s growing demand for energy.
“As the nation’s No. 1 utility wind provider for more than a decade, we’ve long recognized this abundant natural resource provides tremendous value to our customers and communities,” said Ben Fowke, Xcel Energy chairman, president and CEO. “Wind power is emissions-free and cheaper than fossil fuels, allowing us to deliver lower prices and cleaner energy to our customers today and in the decades to come.”
Xcel Energy has more than 6,600 megawatts of wind energy on its system companywide, representing 8 percent of the nation’s total wind capacity – enough to power about 3 million average homes annually. The company’s customers use energy generated from nearly 4,300 wind turbines in seven states; Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
“We started American Wind Week to honor the American innovators who taught the world how to harness the wind for large-scale electricity generation,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “And we aren’t about to cede wind power leadership. Every day U.S. wind workers put up an average of 10 new turbines. Those turbines are the tip of a vast manufacturing supply chain and they’re a rural economic development engine that spans all 50 states.”
Wind power is a proven economic boost for local economies and more communities will soon benefit from new projects. Xcel Energy’s wind plans are projected to generate nearly $400 million in property taxes over the lives of the projects; benefiting local schools, fire departments and other services. In addition, the new wind farms will provide more than 2,000 construction jobs and about 100 permanent jobs in the states served by Xcel Energy.
By bringing wind on its system and advancing the accuracy of wind forecasting, Xcel Energy has used more wind energy and saved customers a total of $66.7 million in fuel costs through 2016. The current low wind prices and available tax credits for new wind farms will also bring value to customers by saving them more than a billion dollars of costs over the lives of the projects.
In 2016, the wind on Xcel Energy’s system has helped to avoid about 12.7 million tons of carbon dioxide. By 2021, Xcel Energy is on track to achieve a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to 2005 levels.
In Texas and New Mexico, Xcel Energy is now seeking approval to add 1,000 additional megawatts of wind energy that Xcel will build and own in Roosevelt County, N.M., and Hale County, Texas. Additionally, Xcel is seeking approval for a contract to purchase 230 megawatts of wind energy to be generated from facilities owned by NextEra Energy Resources in Crosby and Cochran counties on the Texas South Plains. These additions to the regional energy mix are expected to save customers $2.8 billion over 30 years by displacing higher-cost power generated on some of our older, less efficient power plants. Xcel will be able to bring on this new wind energy at a price that’s cheaper than its coal-fueled generation, making wind its lowest-cost generating resource.