DENVER - As 2012 proved to be a banner year for the wind industry nationwide, Xcel Energy in Colorado also achieved a number of significant milestones that have continued through to this year, the company noted today.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, 13,124 megawatts of wind capacity were added in the U.S. during 2012, a record annual amount for the nation. Colorado ranked tenth for new wind generation in 2012, adding 496 megawatts of new capacity wind power statewide.
The bulk of that amount in Colorado was the addition of 400 megawatts of production that went online for NextEra Energy Resources near Limon, Colo. The output of that wind farm is purchased exclusively for Xcel Energy customers and helped maintain Xcel Energy's standing as the number one utility wind provider in the U.S.
"Our wind resources have proven to be invaluable for our customers in Colorado and have led to very balanced portfolio of generating resources for Xcel Energy," said David Eves, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. "The costs associated with the acquisition of renewables in 2012 were right for our customers."
The additional generation at Limon also helped Xcel Energy in Colorado establish a new, all-time one-hour record for wind on its system. At 1 a.m. Jan. 16, 2013, Xcel Energy's overall demand for electricity was met by 1,960 megawatts of wind power.
Also of note, at the end of 2012, wind farms serving Xcel Energy customers generated 5.75 million megawatt-hours of electricity, or more than 16 percent of the approximately 35.9 million megawatt-hours sold during the year. This was a record for the company in Colorado and puts Xcel Energy squarely on the path of meeting its state mandates of 30 percent for wind generation sales by 2020.
Xcel Energy also noted that the 5.75 million megawatts-hours of wind generation contributed greatly to improving the Colorado's air quality.
Total wind on Xcel Energy's system in 2012 helped reduce carbon dioxide emission by an estimated 4,197,500 tons, or the equivalent emissions for the year of more than 793,000 vehicles. Estimated nitrogen oxide emissions were reduced by 4,310 tons.
Earlier in 2012, the company had achieved a nationwide record for wind penetration on its system. On April 15, Xcel Energy was serving nearly 57 percent of its total, one-hour demand for electricity with wind generated in the state.
"We believe 2012 was an exceptionally good year for the wind industry in Colorado, as it was an exceptionally good year for the nation," Eves said. "With wind production in our other Xcel Energy states, we maintained our position as the number one utility provider of wind, and we hope to continue to advance that position this year."