SW Wind Farms to Supply Clean, Renewable Power for Less Cost than Natural Gas

Credit: NextEra Energy Resources
Credit: NextEra Energy Resources

More than doubling the amount of clean, renewable electricity delivered to its customers, Xcel Energy subsidiary Southwestern Public Service expects to save some $590 million in fuel costs over the next 20 years, the result of having signed long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with three wind power farms – one in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and one in Texas.

Clear evidence of the increasing cost competitiveness and substantial ancillary benefits of harnessing wind energy, the power purchase prices Southwestern executives have locked in, for the most part, come in lower than the cost of electricity from natural gas-fired power plants, an Xcel spokesman told Amarillo Globe-News reporter Kevin Welch.

Big advances in wind energy

Adding a total of nearly 700 megawatts (MW), the three wind power PPAs were signed with wind power farms to be built in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas that are expected to come online in 2015:

  • 249 megawatts (MW) from NextEra Energy Resources/Palo Duro Wind Energy Center located in Hansford and Ochiltree counties;
  • 199 MW from NextEra Energy Resources/Mammoth Plains Wind Energy Center located in Dewey and Blaine counties, Okla., near Woodward; and
  • 250 MW from Infinity Wind Resources/Roosevelt Wind Ranch in Roosevelt County, N.M., between the towns of Dora and Elida.

The combination of supportive federal, state and local government renewable energy policies, such as the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), and ongoing advances in wind turbine and systems technology have driven big improvements in wind energy economics. The overall cost of integrating wind-generated electricity on power grids ranged from $1-$7 per megawatt-hour (MWh), according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report.

Wind conditions in the Texas Panhandle are some of the best in the United States for generating power. In Texas and New Mexico, we have about 600 megawatts of wind energy on our system that we acquire through long-term power-purchase agreements with wind farm owners,” Xcel explains on its website.

“We also are required to purchase another 250 megawatts of wind power from qualified generating facilities. In late 2012, we began purchasing all the power from the newly completed, 161-megawatt Spinning Spur Wind Ranch.”

The big, big plus is that you get all that energy without all the emissions, land and water contamination, and overall environmental impact and footprint associated with coal and natural gas production and power generation. That means avoiding an awful lot in the way of catastrophic and chronic environmental health and safety risks and costs that can span decades or more – costs in terms of health, environmental quality, and dollars and cents that invariably and ultimately wind up being picked up by the tax-paying public and those that suffer directly and indirectly from the effects of coal and natural gas power.

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email: huginn.muggin@gmail.com

4 responses

  1. This story is nothing but another lie from the left and environmentalist playbook. No sources are quoted nor are the actual statistics presented, for instance from the US Department of Energy, which show that gas is still far cheaper than wind energy.

    While I admit there is a place for wind energy in our energy model, and I support that, lets not overstate the facts. If you remove “supportive federal, state and local government renewable energy policies” translate government mandates and public tax dollars, the cookie crumbles. Not only do you discredit yourself and your education but you have broken every rule of responsible journalism. But wait, I guess the liberal media does not follow those rules.

    Oops…you forgot to mention a few other things. The big fallacy is: “The big, big plus is that you get all that energy without all the emissions, land and water contamination, and overall environmental impact and footprint associated with coal and natural gas production and power generation.”

    Wind power requires significantly more land, more infrastructure, kills more wildlife, than gas power. In addition, when you factor in the environmental concerns of producing (almost 200 tons of steel and other materials) and erecting and maintaining the towers the difference is negligible. One other item of note and not mentioned is the power it takes from the conventional power grid to balance and stabilize the system if there is a lack of wind.

    1. Until these toxins are coming up from your storm drains, or your town is devastated by a leak or spill, or your children discover their town is a waste dump for toxic waste, until your homes equity crashes due to people leaving because of environmental abuses, you just keep buying into corporate owned media’s message., or lack of reporting about environmental abuses by corporations.
      If Liberal’s owned media as the ignorant among us claim, (by the way, FOX, ABC,CNN,CBS are all cheering you for quoting them)..
      Wouldn’t “Liberal owned media ” be all over this? Wouldn’t ‘Liberal owned” media be all over at least half of these stories? Wouldn’t they be talking about BP filing suit against the EPA because they refused to allow them to continue drilling and abusing American land? Wouldn’t Chevron be on the news for their chronic, (on purpose abuses and spills, as reported by their own workers ahead of time and ignored), or don’t you mind abuses until they’re in your own yard or in your kids playground?
      Until people like you wake up and actually read, pay attention, these companies will keep polluting until they finally get to your town. With your permission they’ll turn this country into a third world waste land. They won’t thank you for enabling them, they’re laughing all the way to their off shore banks.
      Quoting Corporate owned media with their false claims of, “Liberal owned media”..is like claiming Fox actually reports “News” or facts.

      1. Really…that’s the best you can come up with…you are not even on topic. Spoken like a true liberal. Ignore facts in your argument and then attack with passionate misdirection.

Leave a Reply