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Wind could supply 40 percent of region’s energy


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

AMARILLO, Texas — Xcel Energy’s plans to add more wind power in its Texas-New Mexico service area would boost wind to about 40 percent of the region’s electricity supply by 2021 and immediately begin reducing fuel costs on customer bills.

In March, Xcel Energy asked regulators to approve two new company-owned wind farms – one in New Mexico and the other in Texas – that would provide enough energy to power 440,000 typical homes, according to an Xcel press release. The company already purchases enough wind energy to account for 20 percent of the annual energy use in the region, and the new wind farms, along with additional proposed contract purchases, would double that.

Other companies across the nation are following Xcel Energy’s lead because falling capital costs and favorable tax policies have made renewables — especially wind energy — among the most economical types of electricity production. This week, renewable energy advocates across the U.S. are marking “National Clean Energy Week” to step up awareness of the strides electricity providers are making to add new renewable generation facilities that reduce the impact on the environment and, most importantly for regional customers, the impact on monthly bills.

This focus falls in line with Xcel Energy’s strategy of transforming how it produces, distributes and encourages the efficient use of energy within the context of delivering the reliable and affordable energy that regional customers and communities need, said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas.

“The new wind projects we are proposing will generate electricity as cheaply as our coal-fueled power plants without using precious groundwater or producing air emissions,” Hudson said. “Because of these and other factors, we will save $2.8 billion on energy production costs over 30 years, and those savings will flow directly back to our customers through lower fuel costs.”

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The ability to add more wind is now possible in large part because of investments the company has made to strengthen the region’s high-voltage transmission network. Dozens of new transmission projects in Texas and New Mexico have improved the ability to move power throughout the region and connect with outside marketplaces, both of which are vital to the development of new wind farms. The cost of improving this infrastructure has led to higher monthly bills in recent years, but the investments will deliver savings in the long run as more low-cost wind energy is connected to the system, Hudson said.

“We have to invest wisely in our energy future, which means we may have to bear higher upfront costs to achieve long-term savings,” Hudson said. “Our wind energy expansion will pay for itself and return nearly 40 percent in savings over time, and that’s not something we’d want to pass up,” Hudson said.

The wind projects are being reviewed by utility regulators in both Texas and New Mexico, with anticipated approvals coming in 2018.

In addition to Xcel Energy’s growing wind energy portfolio, the company also has brought on large amounts of solar energy in recent years. Two photovoltaic solar facilities built by NextEra Energy Resources outside of Roswell began selling energy to Xcel Energy in late 2016. With 140 total megawatts of capacity, the solar facilities produce enough electricity to power 40,000 typical homes, according to Xcel.

Renewable development also provides a needed financial boost to area towns and cities, according to Xcel. The NextEra projects created 300 jobs during construction and five full-time positions for ongoing operations. They also return $660,000 per year in payments to local taxing entities, including the Roswell Independent School District. Xcel Energy’s proposed wind farms in Texas and New Mexico will create 600 construction jobs and between 40 to 50 full-time operational positions.

More information about Xcel Energy’s plans for the region’s energy future can be found at xcelenergy.com/ourenergyfuturesw.

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