At 8 p.m. on February 17, Xcel Energy's subsidiary utility Northern States Power achieved a milestone when a record 1,713 megawatt-hours of electricity were generated by locally sourced, emission-free wind power, amounting to nearly 33 percent of the company’s Upper Midwest customer electricity needs.
“From our first purchase of wind energy in 1993 to the commissioning of our own Grand Meadow and Nobles wind farms in 2008 and 2010, we have been working toward this day,” said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota. “We have learned a lot about how to successfully produce and integrate wind energy onto our system in a cost-effective manner for our customers.”
Wind farms produced almost 12 percent of the energy used by Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest customers in 2012, putting the company well ahead of milestones established by Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act. That law requires Xcel Energy, the nation’s No. 1 wind power provider, to generate 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, of which 25 percent is expected to be from wind resources–a standard more aggressive than the level set for other Minnesota utilities.
Xcel Energy is currently considering additional wind resources in Minnesota. On February 15, the company issued a request for proposals for up to 200 MW of wind resources to come on line in time to qualify for the newly extended federal Production Tax Credit.
“We have positioned ourselves to be able to take a good project if available and if it makes sense,” Ms. Poferl said. “Extension of the credit may make cost-effective projects available to serve our customers.”
Wind power is an important part of a balanced energy portfolio for serving customers’ needs, Ms. Poferl said: “A diverse supply mix helps us to keep costs lower over time, improve our environmental performance and hedge against future risks. We are making significant investments to enhance that diverse supply, including continued acquisition of cost-effective wind resources.”
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