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Utility company Xcel Energy, which already had nearly 4.9 GW of wind power on its system at the end of 2012, has proposed to grow its wind portfolio by at least another 1.5 GW.

The company is the U.S.' No. 1 wind energy supplier and says the move for more wind is made possible by "extremely competitive prices" and the extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC).

"Wind energy is a valuable, low-cost substitute for natural gas and other fuels right now," says Ben Fowke, Xcel's chairman, president and CEO. "These projects will lower customer costs by at least $800 million over their lives and will provide a valuable hedge to rising and volatile fuel prices for well into the future."

Xcel has submitted throughout its service territories proposals to purchase the additional wind resources, a 30% increase in overall wind capacity. If the projects are approved by the relevant state regulators, Xcel expects that more than 20% of its total energy mix will be supplied by wind.

Xcel Energy is seeking approval of the following projects:

Upper Midwest: Three 200 MW projects in Minnesota and North Dakota. Xcel says the additions will save Upper Midwest customers more than $180 million in fuel costs over 20 years.

Texas/New Mexico: Three projects totaling almost 700 MW located in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The company says the additions will save Texas-New Mexico customers up to $590 million in fuel costs over 20 years.

Colorado: One project totaling approximately 200 MW, which the company says will help save Colorado customers more than $142 million in fuel costs over 20 years. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will decide this fall on whether to approve another 350 MW of wind power.

If approved by regulators, Xcel says construction on the projects will begin immediately in order to qualify for the PTC, which requires that a project begin significant construction activities by the end of 2013. All projects are scheduled to be in service by the beginning of 2016.



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