Utilities investing big in wind - Smart Energy Decisions

Utilities, Finance, Wind  -  March 23, 2017

Xcel Energy makes largest multistate wind investment

Investor-owned utility holding company Xcel Energy on March 21 announced plans to make the largest multi-state investment in wind capacity in the country, adding approximately 3.4 GW of generation to its system. 

 The Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy has proposed 11 new wind farms in seven of the eight states in which it operates totaling 3,380 MW, according to a company statement. The proposed plan significantly increases the amount of wind energy in the company's energy mix by 2021, with wind expected to fuel nearly 35% of its total energy mix.

The announcement adds to the growing level of renewable energy capacity being added to electric utility service territories across the country. According to a recent report from Moody's Investors Service, utilities are increasingly looking to wind specifically to power to expand their rate bases or replace aging, inefficient coal-fired plants. 

According to Moody's, new low-cost wind resources could lead to a trend of earlier retirements for regulated coal plants in the Great Plains region. In the Great Plains states, the average long-term all-in power purchase agreement price for wind power is around $20/MWh, according to the ratings agency. On a comparable basis, the majority of the coal-fired power generation in the same region has operating costs higher than $30/MWh.

Xcel Energy's projects represent a combination of owned wind farms and power purchase agreements, according to the news release. Project developers for the 11 new wind farms include Invenergy, Geronimo, NextEra Energy Resources and ALLETE Clean Energy. 

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