Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why We Keep an Eye on Xcel Energy, Wind/Batteries! Rates! (XEL)

Part II (rates) is here.
Xcel is a major electricity supplier and one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy in the U.S. In one of their bigger markets*, Minnesota, they are required to produce 30% of their power from renewables by 2020, in their Colorado market it's 20% in '20. They are the largest wind energy producer in the country.

Just as California is the dystopian economic future, there is probably something to be learned from the study of Xcel, hopefully a bit cheerier.
First up, from the Minneapolis StarTribune:

Xcel looks to harness wind energy for use even when there's no wind

The project, which also includes the state and a tech firm, is installing a battery that is the first U.S. device that can store wind power.

Next spring Xcel Energy Inc., the state of Minnesota and a Virginia-based technology firm will test the first battery in the country capable of storing wind energy.

The breakthrough technology, which is the size of two semitrailer trucks stacked atop each other, was built in Japan and shipped to Luverne, Minn., where it will store electricity generated by the nearby Minwind Energy wind turbines. S&C Electric Co. expects the equipment will be completely installed by April.

The battery consists of a score of 50-kilowatt modules. When it is fully charged, the massive sodium-sulfur battery -- which weighs about 80 tons -- can store 7.2 megawatt-hours of electricity. That's enough to power 500 homes for about seven hours. It will cost more than $5.4 million to buy and install the battery and analyze its performance....MORE

From Finance and Commerce:

Xcel partners with enXco to build Minnesota, N.D. wind farms

As part of its strategy to own wind farms and garner valuable federal tax credits for energy they create, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. has partnered with Escondido, Calif.-based enXco Inc. to build two wind farms totaling 351 megawatts in capacity.

The nation’s leading utility in wind power, Xcel Energy is seeking regulatory approvals for a 201-megawatt wind farm in southwestern Minnesota’s Nobles County, and a 150-megawatt wind project in Dickey and McIntosh counties of North Dakota.

Development of the two wind farms is expected to cost more than $900 million.

That price tag includes an undisclosed payment to enXco to transfer ownership of both wind farms to Xcel Energy’s Northern States Power Co.’s Minnesota business unit, said Xcel Energy spokeswoman Mary Sandok.

The ownership transfer allows Northern States Power Co. to qualify for federal production tax credit, or PTC, of 2 cents per kilowatt hour of energy generated, reducing the cost of the project over the PTC’s 10-year life....MORE

*From the company:

Service Area

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electric and natural gas company, with annual revenues of $10 billion.

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Xcel Energy operates in 8 Western and Midwestern states and provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies.

States served (with Xcel Energy service areas shaded on map below): Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

map of the Xcel Energy service area