New Mexico approves Xcel’s wind energy expansion

New Mexico regulators have approved a historic expansion of wind energy generation in Xcel Energy’s New Mexico and Texas service areas, a move Xcel says will return significant savings to regional customers over the next several decades.

In a 5-0 vote today, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved a plan to add 1,230 megawatts of wind energy to the regional generating mix. The plan includes production and savings guarantees to Xcel customers and was supported by various consumer groups, state agencies and environmental organizations.

“This is a historic day for customers of Xcel Energy in New Mexico and Texas,” said David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “These wind facilities will power the regional economy with energy from our abundant, fuel-free wind resource and save customers hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs for decades to come.

“This positive outcome was achieved through the hard work and dedication of many stakeholders. We are grateful for the tremendous support of our community partners throughout this process and are excited for the growth and development across our region.”

Hudson says customers will begin to see the benefits of reduced fuel costs, which represent about one-third of a residential customer’s bill, as soon as the projects begin commercial operation. Xcel anticipates average monthly fuel savings to be about $2 for a typical residential customer beginning in 2021 after both wind facilities are operational.

Construction of the 522-megawatt Sagamore Wind Project will include installation of close to 250 Vestas turbines and produce an estimated $43 million in gross receipts tax revenue for the state of New Mexico. Together with the 478-megawatt Hale Wind Project planned in Texas, the Xcel Energy-owned facilities will produce enough wind energy to power about 360,000 homes, create approximately 600 construction jobs and 40-50 full-time positions, and generate $154 million in additional revenue for state and local governments and school districts.

Regulatory approval is still needed from the Public Utility Commission of Texas before construction begins, since the wind energy resources benefit customers in both New Mexico and Texas. Xcel Energy anticipates approval from Texas regulators by mid-April.