Renewable Energy Programs
Through our Windsource program, launched in 1998, we were an early adopter of wind energy. Windsource is a voluntary green energy program that gives customers the option to purchase more renewable energy, above what is provided in our standard energy supply.
Customers can purchase as little as one 100-kilowatt-hour block of renewable energy or opt to have 100 percent of their electricity consumption provided through Windsource. The Green-e Energy Program certifies that Windsource meets the environmental and consumer protection standards established by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions.
Xcel Energy offers the program in five states: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin. In 2014, Windsource was ranked the third largest voluntary green energy program in the United States based upon customer participation, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The number of customers who participated in Windsource in 2014 grew by about 15 percent compared to 2013.
Through Windsource, we sponsor the KidWind project, a nonprofit dedicated to equipping inquisitive learners and educators with renewable energy resources for the classroom and beyond. In 2014, our Windsource program contributed $7,500 to enable five teachers from our service territories to attend the organization’s REcharge Academy, a four-day educator workshop on renewable energy. This opportunity helps local educators prepare our youth for the growing clean energy economy.
|Residential||Commercial & Industrial||Total||MWh|
|NSPW (Wisconsin & Michigan)||4,778||55||4,833||12,126|
|SPS (New Mexico)||818||90||908||3,973|
Through Solar*Rewards, we offer customers in Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico incentives to install solar panels on their homes and businesses. By the end of 2014, Xcel Energy had paid about $357 million in incentives to help customers install more than 25,500 photovoltaic (PV) systems, with a capacity of about 255 megawatts-DC.
(year program launched)
|New Mexico (2009)||14||0.09||129||7.84|
The state’s Renewable Energy Standard and the Public Utilities Commission determine annually the capacity and incentives available under Solar*Rewards in Colorado. Solar*Rewards currently supports the installation of systems at several program levels—small systems up to 25 kilowatts and medium systems between 25.1 to 500 kilowatts. In the past, the program also has issued requests for proposals to support large systems over 500 kilowatts. The largest systems installed under Solar*Rewards are located at Denver International Airport (four systems, 10 MW-DC), Colorado State University (two systems, 15.9 MW-DC) and Fort Carson Army Base (four systems, 15.9 MW-DC).
In 2014, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved an agreement between Xcel Energy, the solar industry and others that allows Solar*Rewards to acquire up to 24 megawatts of solar energy from small installations and up to 12 megawatts from medium installations each year in 2015 and 2016.
In August 2014, Xcel Energy launched a new, redesigned and enhanced Solar*Rewards program for Minnesota customers. The redesign of Solar*Rewards encourages greater participation and seeks to maximize the energy that solar projects produce by offering production-based incentives. Customers who install up to 20-kilowatt photovoltaic installations on their properties receive incentives based on the amount of energy their systems generate, encouraging them to install and maintain efficient systems.
Solar*Rewards in Minnesota will be funded annually for five years with $5 million from the Renewable Development Fund. This annual funding level is projected to support about 4.6 megawatts of solar energy capacity.
In addition to Solar*Rewards, the state also supports a Made in Minnesota program with a budget of $15 million that the Department of Commerce (DOC) administers. Solar energy systems up to 40 kilowatts must incorporate components that meet Made in Minnesota requirements to be eligible for production-based incentives. Xcel Energy supports the Made in Minnesota program by interconnecting the systems and by providing production data for DOC to pay annual incentives.
All Xcel Energy electricity customers in New Mexico are eligible to participate in Solar*Rewards as long as system equipment meets program requirements. Solar*Rewards supports the installation of systems at three program levels—small systems from 0.5 to 10 kilowatts, medium systems between 10.1 to 100 kilowatts and large systems from 100.1 kilowatts to 2 megawatts. The largest systems installed under Solar*Rewards belong to Haley Farms (350 kW-DC), RMS Foods (two systems, 199.68 kW-DC) and the City of Roswell (26 systems, 2.48 MW-DC).
Community Solar Gardens
Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards®Community® program gives customers in Colorado and Minnesota an option to invest in solar energy even if they cannot or do not want to install their own panels.
Under the program, solar developers apply to Xcel Energy to build and operate solar gardens, which are community-based, shared solar installations connected to the grid. Garden developers offer Xcel Energy customers various options to subscribe, lease or purchase a share of the garden’s energy. Participating customers receive credits on their Xcel Energy electricity bills for their portion of energy that the solar garden produces.
Xcel Energy launched Solar*Rewards Community in Colorado in 2012, after the state became one of the first to approve the solar garden concept in 2010. The company to date has approved applications to install 25 solar gardens with a total capacity of about 18 megawatts. In 2014, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved an agreement between Xcel Energy, the solar industry and others that allows Solar*Rewards Community to acquire up to 30 megawatts of new solar garden capacity each year in 2015 and 2016. We plan to issue requests for proposals to fulfill this new requirement.
|Garden Capacity||9.6 MW-DC||8.5 MW-DC|
|Subscribed Capacity||9.3 MW-DC||n/a|
Xcel Energy began accepting applications from garden developers in December 2014 for Solar*Rewards Community in Minnesota. The response has been tremendous with developers submitting applications for more than five times the number of garden projects anticipated. As of April 2015, we had received applications for 502 garden projects totaling about 560 megawatts-AC of power. All applications undergo an evaluation to ensure they meet program requirements, as well as an engineering review, prior to approval.
Under the program so far we have advanced applications totaling about 80 megawatts-AC. These applications are for projects that currently meet the state requirement which limits garden size to one megawatt or less. We plan to work with developers who proposed larger projects to scale them down to one megawatt. Approximately 95 percent of the garden applications received to date are for gardens of more than one megawatt.
We are poised to have one of the largest solar garden programs in the nation, with the first gardens expected to be online in 2015.