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Another large Colorado wind farm to be built for Xcel Energy

A Texas company is planning to build a large wind farm along the Wyoming-Nebraska border in Weld County and supply power to Xcel Energy in Colorado as soon as 2020.

Leeward Renewable Energy Development LLC is permitting a wind farm capable of generating as much as 380 megawatts of electrical power, enough to meet the demand for 285,000 homes at peak production. The company is arranging permits to erect dozens of wind turbines across 43,570 acres of farm land near the town of Grover, close to two other wind farms supplying power to Xcel.

Leeward Renewable officials could not be immediately reached for comment for this story.

Weld County approved its land use permitting for Leeward’s Mountain Breeze project this week.

How much it will cost to build isn’t known. Based on its size and the pricetags for similar projects, the Mountain Breeze wind farm is likely to cost $250 million or more, depending on its final size.

Federal permitting information for the project identifies Xcel Energy’s metro-area utility business – the largest power company in Colorado – as the buyer of the wind farm’s wholesale electricity. The project matches one in the wind power portfolio Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) competitively bid last year for its Colorado Energy Plan.

The utility hasn’t yet publicly identified the winning contractors, but Xcel’s map of projects includes buying 169 megawatts of power generating capacity from a wind farm in the far north of Weld County. Recent filings with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission indicate Xcel has finalized its power purchase agreement with the unidentified wind farm developer.

Earlier this year, Xcel had to step in to oversee construction of a different wind farm after it was unable to reach agreement with the original developer of the project.

Leeward’s Weld County approval is for a wind farm that could be more than twice the size Xcel sought. It’s not clear why.

Leeward Renewable Energy has developed 19 wind projects in nine states and has several more in its pipeline.

Starting Oct. 30, 2020, the Mountain Breeze wind farm plans to use an electrical transmission line that also serves the nearby Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek II wind farms supplying wind power to Xcel. Leeward Renewable Energy applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for authorization to connect to the powerline.

Leeward Renewable Energy is a subsidiary of OMERS Infrastructure, an arm of a public employees pension fund in Ontario, Canada. The Cedar Creek wind farms also are indirect subsidiaries of OMERS, making the wind farm projects affiliates, FERC documents show.