Xcel Energy is expanding its wind energy portfolio.
They've partnered with Wanzek Construction to build the Foxtail Wind Farm in Dickey County, North Dakota, as well as the Freeborn Wind Farm located primarily in Iowa with some turbines located in Minnesota. The projects will total 350 megawatts and about 175 turbines. Mark Nisbet is principal manager of Xcel Energy. He says including wind in their energy portfolio helps keep their electric rates down.
"We haven't had a rate increase in the last three years, we aren't projecting one for next year either. Our fuel costs are dropping. The developers are fully understanding how to take advantage of the wind that's available here. The towers, the blades kick on earlier and run longer. We do a better job forecasting the wind. So we're talking about close to 50 percent capacity factors out of these wind turbines than if you back them up with natural gas, so it really provides a really economical means of producing energy."
This project is part of Xcel's proposed 1850 megawatt expansion of wind energy in the Midwest by the year 2020. By the year 2022, Xcel is projected to have more than 10-thousand megawatts of wind energy on its system. Construction on the Foxtail Wind Farm will begin in 2018, with Freeborn Wind Energy's construction beginning in 2020.