Xcel Energy Inc., the biggest distributor of wind power in the U.S., said it plans to build a $210 million wind facility in Minnesota to meet rising demand for clean electricity.
Xcel Energy, based in Minneapolis, currently distributes about 1,300 megawatts of wind power, with all but 25 megawatts procured from facilities owned by other electricity generators, Chief Financial Officer Ben Fowke said today. The planned wind power farm unveiled today would be able to generate up to 100 megawatts and be in service by 2009.
Directly owning a wind facility has become a more attractive proposition because of improvements in the efficiency and performance of wind turbines, Xcel Energy Chief Executive Officer Dick Kelly said in a September interview. The electricity industry is poised to construct a record 3,000 megawatts of wind turbine generators this year, a 22 percent annual increase, the American Wind Energy Association said.
“Wind is going to be a big part of our generation portfolio going forward and we think we are a logical owner for it,” Fowke said today on a conference call with analysts.
The company, which owns utilities that operate in Minneapolis, Denver and six other U.S. states, expects to more than double the amount of wind power it provides to 2,800 megawatts by year-end, he said.
Xcel Energy has yet to determine where in Minnesota it will build its wind farm. The project will require the approval of state utility regulators.
The proposed construction of the wind farm is one of a series of capital investments Xcel Energy is making to boost its earnings. The company’s financial returns are based in part on investments in its electricity and natural gas systems.
Xcel Energy today also proposed the construction of a gas pipeline and gas storage system in Colorado through a venture with El Paso Corp. Xcel plans to spend $145 million through 2009 on the project.
One megawatt is enough for about 800 U.S. homes.
By Greg Chang
Jan. 31 (Bloomberg)
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Chang in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org
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