For the 10th year in a row, Xcel Energy has been named the U.S.' No. 1 utility provider of wind energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association's recently released 2013 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report.
‘Xcel Energy is proud to be among the nation's leaders in delivering affordable, clean energy from renewable sources,’ says Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. ‘We embraced wind energy early because it's clean, cost-effective and will protect our customers against rising fuel prices in the future.’
As of 2013, Xcel Energy says it had 5,080 MW of wind energy on its systems, enough wind power to meet the energy needs of about 2.5 million homes. Wind also was about 15% of the company's energy supply, and by 2020, Xcel Energy projects it will make up more than 20%.
One early morning hour in May 2013, wind energy provided more than 60% of Xcel Energy's electricity supply on its Colorado system, which the company says is a national record. The company also estimates it has saved $37.5 million in fuel costs since working to improve wind forecasting in 2009.
"We've been fortunate to operate in states with both excellent wind resources and policies that support the fair and cost-effective development of wind power," says Frank Prager, vice president for policy and strategy at Xcel Energy. "These things have enabled us to increase the use of renewable energy and to reduce emissions at a reasonable cost for customers."
Xcel Energy says wind energy has also helped its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The company is well ahead of its goal of reducing carbon emissions 20% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels and projects a 31% reduction by 2020.
Last year, Xcel Energy announced plans to expand its wind power use by another 40% over the next several years. The company is finalizing approvals and agreements to participate in nine new projects that will add a total of 1.9 GW throughout its service territory. The company says the projects are being offered at prices competitive with new natural-gas-fueled generation and are estimated to save customers more than $900 million over the length of the contracts.