Xcel Energy: The Nation’s Leading Wind Power Provider
Wind energy in particular continues to play a major role in Xcel Energy's environmental leadership initiatives. In 2006, Xcel Energy again led the nation in providing wind power for its customers – more than any other utility in the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association. By year-end, they had 1,323 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity installed on their system and they plan to more than double that capacity to 2,800 MW by the end of 2007. Xcel Energy's long-range plans call for them to have 6,000 MW of wind on their entire system by 2020.
Xcel Energy's proactive efforts position them to meet future demands for renewable energy as legislatures in Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico passed laws in 2006 calling for increased Renewable Portfolio Standards. Their customers are showing their support of wind energy as well by their participation in Xcel Energy's voluntary program Windsource, the country’s largest green-pricing program in terms of customer participation, according to the national Renewable Energy Laboratory. At the end of 2006, more than 60,000 customers subscribed to Windsource, a 30 percent increase over 2005.
Xcel Energy proactively studies the cost and operational impacts of increasing their penetration of wind energy in Minnesota and Colorado and is currently assessing higher penetration levels of wind in Texas and New Mexico. These studies provide valuable data they use in resource planning, with the goal of maximizing cost-effective renewable energy in their overall portfolio.
Xcel Energy also is managing a study with a transmission organization, the Midwestern Independent System Operator, or MISO, to understand the challenges of transmitting wind energy: moving wind energy to population centers from distant wind farms, the short wind generation development time versus the long transmission permitting and construction lead-time, and the allocation of cost recovery and other issues. And Xcel Energy is working with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO, to improve the accuracy of forecasting wind availability for meeting daily energy requirements and short-term peak demand (www.xcelenergy.com).