Texas Signs Off on Another Wind Farm Operation

A company has won approval from Texas regulators for the construction of a large wind farm in far west Texas.  Xcel Energy won the approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas to build the 478-megawatt Hale Wind Project near Plainview, Texas.

The wind farm will be one of two to be built in the area by Xcel Energy and construction is expected to begin in June. The other is just across the state line in New Mexico and state authorities in New Mexico gave approval earlier in March. The combined operations will add 1,230 megawatts of additional wind energy to the region.

The Sagamore Wind Project near Portales, New Mexico will start in 2019. Both new Xcel Energy-owned facilities will produce enough wind energy to power 360,000 homes.

“We’re grateful for the support of our community partners, who recognized the significant savings these new wind facilities will achieve. Their input was invaluable as they worked with us over the past year to fine tune this plan,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas.

“The new wind farms will help power a growing regional economy with clean energy while providing the lowest-cost generating resource on our system. Not only will these wind farms save customers money, but they’ll also preserve precious water resources and spur regional economic activity,” Hudson added.

The plan calls for two new wind farms – one in Texas and the other in New Mexico – that will be built and owned by Xcel Energy. Along with these two new facilities, the company has gained approval to purchase additional wind energy through long-term contract from facilities in Texas. Because there are no fuel costs associated with wind generation, these facilities will save hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel costs over 30 years by offsetting higher cost generation from the area’s conventional power plants. Additionally, the two facilities Xcel Energy will build qualify for 100 percent of the federal production tax credit, the benefits of which will be entirely passed on to regional customers.

Customers will begin to see the benefits of reduced fuel costs, which represent about one third of a residential customer’s bill, as soon as the projects begin commercial operation. Xcel Energy anticipates average monthly fuel savings to be about $2 for a typical residential customer beginning in 2021 after both wind facilities are operational.

Wanzek Construction has been selected to build both the Hale and Sagamore wind facilities. The company is also building new Xcel Energy wind energy facilities in North Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. Wanzek will use local subcontractors and suppliers for various construction aspects of the wind farms.

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