Xcel Energy adds to its wind power with completion of Cheyenne Ridge on Eastern Plains

Xcel Energy-Colorado has completed construction of the 500-megawatt Cheyenne Ridge wind farm on the Eastern Plains.

The 229-turbine facility in Cheyenne and Kit Carson counties will provide enough energy to power about 270,000 homes, Xcel Energy said in a statement Wednesday. The project, owned by the utility, was completed ahead of schedule and began operating in August.

Earlier in September, Cheyenne Ridge helped Xcel Energy set a record for hourly wind generation in Colorado when the wind power on its system served close to 70% of the energy for customers.

“We are proud to bring our customers more of the clean, affordable renewable power they have been asking for,” Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy-Colorado, said in a statement.

Cheyenne Ridge will help move Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility, closer to its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2030, the company said. And by 2026, more than half of the power produced by Xcel will come from wind and solar energy, according to the utility.

Xcel Energy has set a goal of being 100% carbon free by 2050.

The Cheyenne Ridge project will also generate economic benefits for area landowners, Xcel Energy said. Over its life, the wind farm is expected to generate about $107 million in lease payments for landowners and $29 million in new tax revenue.

Landowner Mark Hillman said diversification is always good for people in agriculture.

“So whether you grow crops or raise livestock, you are always at the mercy of the weather. The wind towers provide some financial stability in the years when the wind just blows hot and dry, which is kind of what it’s done this year,” Hillman said in a statement.

A recent report by the organization The Western Way found that more than 95% of the state’s renewable energy capacity is on the Eastern Plains, producing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in benefits each year.

Xcel Energy worked with construction company Mortenson and wind-turbine manufacturer Vestas on the Cheyenne Ridge project, as it did on the Rush Creek project. Rush Creek, completed in 2018, is a 300-turbine, 600-megawatt wind farm that sprawls across five counties on the Eastern Plains.

In February, Xcel Energy completed a new 125-mile transmission line to carry electricity from the wind turbines to metro Denver.