New Xcel Energy wind facilities offer $2.8 billion in customer savings over 30 years

Updated: Mar. 21, 2017 at 12:19 PM CDT
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Information provided by Xcel Energy

AMARILLO, Texas (March 21, 2017) – Xcel Energy projects it can save Texas-New Mexico customers $2.8 billion over a 30-year period by displacing higher-cost energy with an additional 1,230 megawatts of wind energy – enough electricity to power more than 440,000 typical homes.

Most of the new megawatts of wind energy would be generated at two facilities constructed and owned by the company at sites located in eastern New Mexico and in the Texas South Plains region. Another new wind energy development will sell energy to the company through a long-term contract.

The proposal, filed today with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and the Public Utility Commission of Texas, represents Xcel Energy's commitment to customers to deliver affordable and reliable energy with a dedication to a diverse energy portfolio, the foundation of the strategy Xcel Energy refers to as "Our Energy Future for the Southwest."

David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas, said Xcel Energy is the nation's leader in procuring and delivering cost-effective renewable wind resources for its customers' benefit, and the Texas-New Mexico wind initiative is part of an overall corporate strategy to secure customer savings by investing in infrastructure projects that lower the cost of energy production that is so often affected by volatility in the natural gas markets. Natural gas is used to generate close to 40 percent of the energy delivered to Xcel Energy customers in Texas and New Mexico.

"The decision to add additional wind generation is purely in the economic interest of our customers," Hudson said. "These new wind facilities will cost $1.6 billion to build, but will allow us to produce wind energy at a cost lower than energy produced at our coal and natural gas-fueled plants. These lower energy costs, in addition to savings from tax credits, add up to more than $2.8 billion in nominal customer savings over 30 years. These investments will also create significant tax base in communities where the facilities are located, as well as create jobs and long-term economic growth."

The fuel for the wind generators – the wind itself – is free of charge, and wind generating technology has come down in cost dramatically. By acting now, Xcel Energy can lock in cost and tax benefits to develop what will be the region's least expensive generating resource.

The electricity at the new company-owned wind farms will be generated by wind turbines manufactured by Vestas-American Wind Technology Inc., a world leader in wind turbine technology and manufacturing. Xcel Energy entered into an agreement with Vestas to purchase the turbines in 2016, which qualifies company-owned developments for 100 percent of an available federal production tax credit. At the time the new wind facilities will come on line, the credit will be valued at around 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The wind sites the company plans to acquire are currently under development by two different developers.

In Roosevelt County, New Mexico, approximately 20 miles south of Portales, Xcel Energy has entered into an agreement to purchase the Sagamore Wind Project from Invenergy, LLC. This facility will be capable of generating 522 megawatts, enough to power about 194,000 homes. The Sagamore project is expected to be in service by the end of 2020. Total project cost is $865 million.

In Hale County, Texas, just north of Lubbock and south of Plainview, Xcel Energy has entered into an agreement to purchase the Hale Wind Project from a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. This facility is expected to generate up to 478 megawatts, enough to power about 168,000 homes. The Hale Wind Project is expected to be in service by the end of 2019. Total project cost is $769 million.

As part of the agreement with NextEra Energy Resources, Xcel Energy also will purchase 230 megawatts of wind energy from NextEra Energy Resources under a 30-year purchased power contract from two sites around Lubbock collectively known as the Bonita PPA. These facilities will generate enough power for about 81,000 homes. One Bonita site will be located in Cochran County, Texas, roughly 60 miles west of Lubbock. The other is located in Crosby County, Texas, roughly 20 miles east of Lubbock. Xcel Energy expects to be receiving energy from these purchases by 2019.

NextEra Energy Resources contributes extensive experience to this partnership. The company has developed wind projects for Xcel Energy outside of Texas and New Mexico, and in 2016, Xcel Energy began purchasing solar energy from a NextEra Energy Resources-developed project near Roswell, N.M.

"NextEra Energy Resources and Xcel Energy, both leaders in renewable energy, have developed a strong partnership over the past decade," said Mike O'Sullivan, senior vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources. "We are pleased to work together once again on the Hale Wind Project and Bonita PPA. The Hale Wind Project is the result of an initial investment made by the landowners of Hale County in 2009. These community leaders have made a commitment to generate affordable, clean energy and bring good jobs and millions of dollars in taxes and economic benefits to their community. Their support is the foundation of this partnership."

Invenergy is also the lead developer on Xcel Energy's Rush Creek Wind Project in Colorado, announced in 2016. The Chicago-based company and its affiliates have developed more than 14,900 megawatts of renewable energy around the globe.

"We are thrilled once again to be partnering with Xcel Energy, ensuring clean, home-grown power is a part of New Mexico's energy future," said Mick Baird, Invenergy's senior vice president of development.

The finalization of the agreements for the new wind facilities is conditional upon the approval of utility commissions in both New Mexico and Texas.