Xcel Moves Forward With Wind Power Expansion

Xcel Energy plans to add about 1,550 MW of wind power to its portfolio in the Upper Midwest with the addition of seven wind farms expected to be operational by year-end 2020. The additions are among 11 new wind farms announced over the past year by Xcel in seven states that would add a total of 3,380 MW to the company’s system. The company said the expansion would increase its wind portfolio to about 35% of its energy mix by 2021.

The Midwest projects, sited in Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Iowa, would increase Xcel’s regional wind output by about 70%, the company said. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the proposal July 6; the North Dakota Public Service Commission said it would review the plan later this year. Those states, unlike some others, require Xcel to seek state approval to add resources, according to Lisa Kiava, a senior media relations person in Xcel’s Minneapolis, Minn., office. Xcel said the projects would likely run for 25 years.

“We’re investing in low-cost wind energy to provide the benefits of clean, affordable energy directly to our customers,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, in a news release. “These projects deliver on our plan to keep energy costs low while also reducing carbon emissions by more than 60 percent in the coming decades.”

Xcel Energy is adding another 1,550 MW of wind power to its portfolio with projects sited in the Upper Midwest. Courtesy: Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy is adding another 1,550 MW of wind power to its portfolio with projects sited in the Upper Midwest. Courtesy: Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy will own 1,150 megawatts of the energy produced at the Midwest farms, and the remaining 400 MW will be sold to the company under long-term power purchase agreements.

The Midwest projects include:

  • Freeborn Wind Energy, a 200-MW project in Freeborn County, Minn., and Worth and Mitchell counties in Iowa.
  • Foxtail Wind, a 150-MW project in Dickey County, N.D.
  • Blazing Star 1, a 200-MW project in Lincoln County, Minn.
  • Blazing Star 2, a 200-MW project in Lincoln County, Minn.
  • Crowned Ridge Wind Project, a 600-MW project in Codington County, S.D.
  • Lake Benton Wind Project, a 100-MW project in Pipestone County, Minn.
  • Clean Energy 1, a 100-MW project in Morton and Mercer counties, N.D.

Other projects announced by Xcel over the past year include 1,230 MW of new wind power in Texas and New Mexico. Those projects include the 522-MW Sagamore Wind project in Roosevelt County, N.M.; the 478-MW Hale Wind project in Hale County, Texas; and a 230-MW power purchase agreement project in Cochran and Crosby counties, Texas.

Xcel also recently began construction on the 600-MW Rush Creek Wind Farm, which covers 95,000 acres in four rural counties in eastern Colorado. Xcel has said it plans to have Rush Creek operational by the end of 2018.

-Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor. (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine)