Xcel to boost wind, solar usage

Xcel Energy, which ranks first in wind capacity among US electric utility holding companies, reported higher first quarter earnings while reaffirming its commitment to renewable energy.

The company reported net income of $261.2m, or 52 cents per share, versus $236.5m, or 48 cents a year earlier. Revenue rose to $3.2bn compared to $2,78bn in first quarter 2013.

Xcel’s utility subsidiaries serve the Upper Midwest, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas Panhandle, which is experiencing a wind boom.

On 1 January, Xcel had 5.08GW of wind - 328MW under direct ownership and 4.752GW through long-term contracts with independent power producers, about 10% of the electricity generation on its system.

The company plans to add more wind as it is the most affordable renewable resource today.

The company is also aggressively pushing solar energy in Colorado and Minnesota for customers who want it. Xcel recently issued a request for proposals from developers for up to 100MW large-scale solar in Minnesota to be installed by 2016.

“We are very diligent bringing out renewables at the right price point to all customers. We want to continue to do that,” Xcel chief executive Ben Fowke said on a conference call..

“It’s extremely important that we never lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish with renewables. In my mind it is reducing carbon in an efficient manner. We want to do that as efficiently, transparently and fairly as possible to all customers,” he adds..