By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
A Roosevelt County wind ranch will play a role in a significant increase in wind purchases from Xcel Energy, according to an Xcel Energy press release Wednesday.
Xcel is currently seeking approval in New Mexico to purchase 700 megawatts of additional wind energy through three purchasing agreements, including Infinity Wind Resources/Roosevelt Wind Ranch, a wind farm near Elida. The other wind farms are located in Texas and Oklahoma.
“We can save about $590 million in natural gas costs by depending on these wind facilities over time (a 20-year span),” says Xcel Spokesman Wes Reeves. “All the energy we produce, we will purchase that at a set price.”
Reeves says customers’ bills are made up of fuel costs because they pay for natural gas and coal which in turn is passed on to consumers.
“It helps hold down future fuel cost increases,” said Reeves about the wind energy purchase.
Reeves added it’s difficult to predict how much the average customer would save over the course of a year but he says it’s a good assumption the cost of purchasing wind is less than purchasing gas.
According to the press release, favorable pricing for the wind energy industry is partly the result of a federal production tax credit that Congress extended for one year, applicable to facilities that begin construction before the end of 2013.
Xcel currently has close to 1,500 megawatts of wind energy capacity connected to its Texas-New Mexico transmission and distribution network, which includes six eastern and southeastern counties in New Mexico, according to the press release.
“It’s really a big deal for the wind industry,” Reeves said. “They’re able to sell a product that’s competitive with other forms of energy generation. The technology has come down in cost, we’re getting good production from the facilities. It’s a big deal for the whole region and for us it’s a matter of economics. Anytime we can find power generation that’s cheaper, we’ll look at it.”