Wind industry announces boom year, crowns Xcel utility leader

Modesto Morganelli
Aprile 20, 2017

"You have a unique opportunity to buy wind that is cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives", Ben Fowke, Xcel's CEO, said during the industry's presentation at the State Capitol.

"You have a great resource", Tom Kiernan, CEO of the industry's trade group, said of Minnesota.

"Xcel Energy continues to hold the title for most wind energy on a utility system in 2016, even as other utilities also ramp up low-priced, reliable wind power", said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA.

Kansas, which derived close to 30 percent of its electricity from wind a year ago along with Iowa, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas comprise the five most wind-dependent states in the nation - and each are traditional Republican strongholds. In total, the new wind farms will create 2,000 construction jobs and full-time jobs.

The report also found that technological improvements now allow wind turbines to produce 50 percent more electricity than in 2009 at one third of the cost. Of those jobs, 25,000 are factory positions at more than 500 US factories that produce wind parts. According to the AWEA, by the end of President Trump's four-year term, American wind power could support more than 248,000 wind-related jobs. OH has the highest number of wind factories with 62 in the state, followed by Wisconsin and Pennsylvania each with 26 and MI with 25. "We also hear the call to revitalize the failing manufacturing base, and we hear the call to recommit the engines of our economy for the benefit of the American worker, which we're doing". "With stable policy in place, we're on the path to reliably supply 10 percent of USA electricity by 2020". As it now stands, with more than 99% of wind farms in the United States built in rural communities, the industry is now paying more than $245 million annually in land-lease payments to local landowners, helping to benefit those rural communities.

Amid concerns about the effect the Trump administration will have on renewable energy, the speakers at the press event expressed confidence that wind could compete with other sources of energy even without incentives.

Xcel Energy's wind portfolio will contribute to an estimated 45 percent reduction companywide in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2021, if the company is able to fully implement approved and proposed renewable energy plans. Natural gas made up 33.6 percent of generation in 2016; coal, 30.2 percent; nuclear, 19.6 percent; and solar, 1.4 percent. We're proud of that, but I've got to tell you we're not satisfied with that. According to the 2016 annual market report, wind now pays over US$ 245 million per year in land-lease payments to local landowners, often farmers and ranchers.

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