We are fortunate to operate in parts of the country rich in wind, and we’re putting this resource to work for customers. As the nation’s No. 1 utility wind provider for more than a decade, wind energy supplies nearly 20 percent of our power companywide — more than six times the wind energy on our system than in 2005.
We have announced plans to grow our wind portfolio 55 percent by the end of 2021. Our plans include 12 new wind farms in seven states that will add nearly 3,700 megawatts of new wind capacity to our system.
The cost of wind power has significantly declined as turbine technology has improved. Given current low prices and available tax credits, it is an ideal time to invest in wind to benefit customers. We find that the cost to construct a wind farm is offset by the future fuel savings, providing our customers with clean energy at an affordable cost for years to come.
Wind power is clean, renewable energy. It requires no fuel or water, and in 2016 helped to avoid about 12.7 million tons of carbon dioxide, as well as other emissions on our system. For customers who want more, we offer Windsource®, one of the largest voluntary green energy programs in the country, available in most of the states that we serve. Windsource gives customers the option to purchase more renewable energy, above what we already provide.
With the growing wind resources on our system, we continue to improve our operating practices, demonstrating that wind can function as part of a reliable power system. For example, we have improved our wind forecasting capabilities by helping develop and use some of the most advanced forecasting tools available. Because we can more accurately predict the availability of wind generation, we can power-down fossil fuel plants on windy days, helping save customers millions of dollars in fuel costs.
In addition, we have historically purchased most of our wind power from independent suppliers under long-term contracts. This is changing as we plan to own and operate more Xcel Energy wind farms. We currently own five wind farms totaling about 850 megawatts in the Upper Midwest — Border, Courtenay, Grand Meadow, Nobles and Pleasant Valley — with a sixth project now under construction in Colorado, Rush Creek.
Have questions about wind energy? Check out our Q&A.
Today's wind turbines are larger, quieter and more efficient. Learn more.
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