Renewable Wind get Colorado Boost from Xcel Energy

Xcel (XEL) would become biggest Wind Power provider in U.S.

Xcel Energy announced today that it intends to acquire 775 megawatts of new wind power capacity for its Colorado system by 2007. The additional capacity would make Xcel Energy the nation’s largest utility user of wind power.

The announcement today is part of filings made with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on the company’s Least-Cost (Resource) Plan (LCP), a process designed to address the state’s growing energy demand. Xcel Energy also announced today that it intends to acquire approximately 1,300 megawatts of natural gas-fired generation from new and existing facilities between 2007 and 2012.

In addition, the company intends to acquire up to 30 megawatts of energy efficiency supplied by bidders, known as Demand-Side Management (DSM). Xcel Energy has committed $196 million in company-sponsored initiatives for the remainder of the DSM program, which would be an additional 290 megawatts.

“Xcel Energy has taken the leadership position among all electric utilities in support of renewable energy — both in Colorado and throughout the country,” said Pat Vincent, Xcel Energy’s president and chief executive officer for Colorado. “We are working to ensure that wind power is an integral part of our nation’s future energy supply.” Xcel Energy — which currently has 282 megawatts of wind in-service or under-construction in Colorado — would increase its overall wind capacity in the state by 275 percent. Xcel Energy estimates that it also would meet the non-solar mandates of the voter-approved Renewable Energy Standard through 2014, essentially meeting the standard seven years earlier than required.

Companywide, Xcel Energy — which operates in 10 states — expects to have more than 1,100 megawatts of owned or purchased wind capacity on its system by early 2006, increasing to more than 2,300 megawatts of wind capacity by the end of 2007. This includes more than 1,000 megawatts each in Colorado and Minnesota.

Xcel Energy cautioned that while it is aggressively seeking to add more wind power in Colorado, the ultimate success of permitting, constructing and placing new wind farms into commercial operation remains in the hands of independent wind developers.

“While current economic conditions in the wind power industry are challenging, we will closely work with our future wind development partners in Colorado to see that their projects are successful,” Vincent said. “The completion of these projects is important to our customers and to Xcel Energy.”

Xcel Energy’s estimates of its current and future wind power capacity standing — in relationship to other utilities — is based on a compilation of current and proposed wind projects announced by utilities through various national wind power trade associations, and is subject to change based on future announcements.

Also today, Xcel Energy filed with the CPUC a request to shorten its planned resource acquisition period under the current LCP to nine from 10 years. In an application filed today, the company noted that conditions have changed since the original plan was filed in April 2004, requiring it to reconsider its long-range acquisition strategy.

“There are several recent economic, legislative and regulatory uncertainties that we need to better understand before we commit to another major resource that would come on line many years from now,” said David Eves, Xcel Energy vice president for resource planning and acquisition.

Specifically, Eves noted that the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 places significant emphasis on improving the nation’s transmission grid, which could open up new generation resources previously thought unavailable to the company’s Colorado operations. Likewise, the Colorado commission will hold future resource planning and DSM hearings that could significantly alter the rules for acquisition of future generation.

The resource planning process occurs every four years in Colorado, and is designed to determine the company’s future energy needs and identify the resources that would be acquired to meet those needs. In the past decade, Xcel Energy has seen a 10 percent growth in per-household electricity use, a 20 percent increase in total customers and a 60 percent increase in peak demand for power.

Coupled with the addition of the 750-megawatt, coal-fired third generating unit at the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, Colo., the wind, natural gas and energy efficiency resources to be acquired through the announcement today combine to give Xcel Energy a very balanced and diversified supply portfolio, Eves said.

The acquisition of future wind power in Colorado is not a part of Xcel Energy’s premium customer “green pricing” program, known as Windsource. Xcel Energy also notes that one megawatt of generation can meet the electricity needs of approximately 1,000 homes in Colorado.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company, with operations in 10 Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. In terms of customers, it is the fourth-largest combination natural gas and electricity company in the nation. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at