- Xcel Energy filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for approval of a $1 billion spend on the 600 MW Rush Creek Wind Project and an accompanying 90 mile, 345 kV transmission line. It would be the biggest wind installation in Colorado, which got 14.2% of its power from wind in 2015.
- Vestas Wind Systems would build the project’s 300 2-MW turbines at its Colorado factories. Invenergy would act as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor.
- Xcel expects generation from Rush Creek particularly cost-effective because it is scheduled to begin construction in time to earn 100% of the $0.023/kWh federal production tax credit (PTC). A University of Colorado study found Rush Creek would supply 7,000 job-years of work over its 25 year project life.
Wind’s installed cost is down 66% since 2009 and is expected to keep falling. The record low prices, driven by an extension of the PTC late last year, are forecast by Bloomberg to grow 19 GW of new capacity over the next five years.
Fluctuations in the PTC’s availability in recent years has made wind “in-the-money and out-of-the-money" at different times, Xcel Energy Colorado President David Eves recently told Utility Dive. “With the full $23/MWh PTC, wind produces energy at below the cost of a combined cycle turbine with the forward gas curve we see. That is in-the-money.”
"Whether it is a power purchase agreement or a utility-owned wind project, it will have a much more stable and predictable cost of energy than fuels like natural gas that have been more volatile in price,” Eves said.
Xcel led U.S. utilities in 2015 for the eighth straight year with 6,545 MW of wind capacity on its system, according to just-released 2015 wind industry numbers. It was also the eighth biggest holder of new wind capacity last year with 350 MW.