Area wind farms provide close to 40% of area’s electricity supply in April
For AGN Media
Wind energy accounted for a record amount of Xcel Energy’s regional electricity supply over the spring months, boosting the supply of clean energy and saving money on monthly bills, according to a news release from the company.
"Area wind plants not only have helped us meet high demand on hot days, but they’re saving customers money because we don’t have to purchase fuel to operate the turbines – we simply take the energy from the region’s abundant supply of wind," said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas.
In April, almost 40% of the electricity supply was made up of power generated at area wind farms, boosted in large part by the addition of Xcel Energy’s Hale Wind Project in June 2019. On April 12, wind energy set a daily record when it accounted for more than 64% of that day’s electricity supply. And on the morning of May 8, Xcel Energy set a new hourly peak when 76% of the region’s electricity needs were met by wind energy, the release states.
Continued strong wind energy production in June helped meet higher electricity demand driven by increased use of air conditioning, Hudson said, further amplifying the savings from wind energy investments.
"Historically, fuel costs go up in the summer because of the extra demand on our generating fleet, so the savings from wind farms are magnified when we get these windy days in June and July," Hudson said.
"Plus, the more wind energy we produce, the more of the federal production tax credits we receive, and 100% of the value from these credits are passed along to customers in the form of lower fuel costs."
Hale alone accounted for more than $80 million in fuel cost savings in 2019, and additional savings will be realized when Xcel Energy’s Sagamore Wind Project comes on line at the end of 2020 near Portales, New Mexico, the release states. The annual fuel cost savings each new wind farm generates more than offsets the added capital costs of building the wind facilities, officials say.
The addition of more low-cost wind energy combined with historically low natural gas prices have led to an almost 10% reduction in residential bills since 2019. On top of this reduction, Xcel Energy has refunded a total of $78 million in fuel costs to Texas customers over the past 18 months, the release states.
In 2019, wind energy accounted for 26% of the electricity generated for customers in Xcel Energy’s Texas-New Mexico service area. Natural gas-fueled generation supplied 47% and coal-fueled generation made up 25% of the mix. About 2% of region’s electricity came from solar energy sources.
In addition to the savings wind energy delivers, area wind facilities and the associated transmission infrastructure boost rural tax rolls and provide new income sources for farmers and ranchers. The environment benefits as well since wind farms don’t produce air emissions or use precious groundwater in their daily operations.
Renewable resources such as wind will be key in helping Xcel Energy reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030. The company already has reduced carbon on its Texas-New Mexico system by 47% since 2005.
By 2050, Xcel Energy aspires to provide 100% carbon-free electricity.