Xcel Energy will pursue wind projects now to get tax credit benefit
Feb 04, 2013 (Menafn - Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Wind energy leader Xcel Energy says it wants to try to take advantage of a newly extended federal tax credit to see if it can pick up additional wind energy for cheap, even if it doesn't need it immediately.
The Minneapolis-based utility told regulators in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin on Monday, Feb 4, that it will seek proposals for up to 200 megawatts of wind resources by April 1.
The utility appears to hope to take advantage of what could be a buyer's market for wind this year.
Xcel must derive 30 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020, but it says it has no need for additional wind energy generation until 2017 at the earliest.
However, the production tax credit for wind energy, extended for one year on Jan. 2, offers a chance for developers to pitch their projects to Xcel this year.
The production tax credit can be awarded to projects that begin significant construction this year, even if they don't finish until later.
Previous versions of the law required that wind projects finish construction and begin producing power before qualifying for the tax credit.
"We want to go out and have a look to see if we could find a good project," Xcel regional vice president Laura McCarten said. The utility is under no obligation to buy any wind power if it doesn't feel the price is cheap enough, she said.
She said Xcel could include buy a wind farm outright or just purchase the power from it.
At present, natural gas is the
cheapest power resource available to Xcel, but gas has a volatile price history while wind energy has the advantage of no fuel cost, McCarten said.
Leslie Brooks Suzukamo can be reached at 651-228-5475. Follow him at twitter.com/suzukamo.
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