We operate in parts of the country rich in wind—a resource we’re putting to work for customers. Today, wind generation makes up nearly 20 percent of our energy mix companywide, and we expect it to supply up to 35 percent in the next five years.
For 12 years running, we continue to be the nation’s No. 1 utility wind energy provider, according to the American Wind Association. Historically, we have purchased most of our wind power from independent suppliers under long-term contracts. This is changing as we plan to own and operate more wind farms. Of the nearly 6,700 megawatts of wind on our systems, we currently own five wind farms in the Upper Midwest with a total capacity of about 850 megawatts. In 2016, we completed construction of the Courtenay Wind Farm in North Dakota—the first wind farm we’ve built from the ground up.
The Courtenay Wind Farm took 15 months to build. Watch the full construction in just three minutes, from start to finish.
The cost of wind power has come down significantly as turbine technology has improved. Given today’s low prices and current tax credits, it is an ideal time to invest in wind to benefit our customers. We are finding that the cost to construct a wind farm is offset by the fuel savings, which in the long run will help to keep energy prices affordable and protect customers from rising fuel costs.
As an early adopter of wind energy in the late 1990s, we gained valuable experience managing wind generation. Along the way, we improved our operating practices, including the use of advanced wind forecasting. Because we can more accurately predict wind energy, we are powering down fossil fuel plants on windy days, saving customers millions of dollars in fuel costs. We’ve also achieved some impressive operating records. For instance, in October of 2015 wind energy produced 55 percent of our customers’ power in Colorado for an entire day.
The wind on our system provides customers with clean, renewable energy. It requires no fuel or water and helps avoid approximately 11.7 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, as well as other emissions. For customers who want more, we offer Windsource, one of the largest voluntary green energy programs in the country, available in most states that we serve. Windsource gives customers the option to purchase more renewable energy, above what we already provide.
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