A subsidiary of giant US utility Xcel Energy will step up its purchases of wind generated electricity five-fold in 2005, adding 360 MW to Southwestern Public Service Company's (SWPSC) wind portfolio for customers in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas. That will bring SWPSC's total wind capacity to 445 MW, or nearly 10% of its installed capacity for the area. While not all power purchase agreements are in place, the utility says it will contract for the output of three new projects in Texas and New Mexico. Texas-based Cielo Wind Power is developing the 80 MW Caprock Wind project in New Mexico and 60 MW of that project, which uses Mitsubishi 1 MW turbines, will go online this year. It is also building 160 MW in Texas (see above). California-based Padoma Wind Power LLC is developing the 120 MW San Juan Mesa project in New Mexico. Xcel says the price for wind energy supported by wind's federal tax credit is lower than its cost of natural gas fuelled electricity. "When the wind plants produce power, we can decrease production at our gas fuelled plants, thereby decreasing our customers' monthly bills" says SWPSC's Gary L Gibson. Xcel, which operates in 11 states, has also received approval to build one of four new transmission lines needed to move an additional 825 MW out of south-western Minnesota's Buffalo Ridge. Last year the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission moved up to 2006 a requirement that Xcel buy at least 825 MW more wind energy. Furthermore, Xcel says it will increase its purchases of wind in Colorado by 500 MW in 2005. It currently owns or buys 242 MW of wind capacity.
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