From: Jeff Tucker, The Pueblo (Colorado) Chieftain
Published March 18, 2005 12:00 AM

Xcel to Buy Wind Power from Lamar Investors

LAMAR, Colo. — A grass-roots power company in Lamar got good news Wednesday after Xcel officially announced it would buy 69 megawatts of wind-generated power annually from the company for the next quarter century.


Chris Rundell, a manager with Prairie Wind Energy, said the company had signed the contract with Xcel last week, but the energy utility didn't officially announce the deal until Wednesday.


"It's been a roller-coaster ride and there have been a lot of ups and downs," Rundell said. "We're excited to begin working, but there's still a lot to be done."


The Xcel deal marks the first contract for the company, which was formed by a partnership of more than 20 Lamar-area investors who saw the introduction of other wind farms in the area and decided to try to keep a piece of the market in the hands of locals.


Rundell said the company hasn't gotten all of the contract details finished yet, but hopes that construction on the new wind farm could begin by this summer.


The facility will be built specifically for the Xcel contract, which is good for 25 years, Rundell said.


The contract with Xcel is part of Xcel's move to increase the amount of power it provides from green, or renewable, sources.


In November, Xcel put out a bid to purchase up to 500 megawatts of cost-effective wind power by 2006. Wednesday's announcement was for the purchase of 129 megawatts of wind power from two facilities.


Prairie Wind will provide 69 megawatts and the remaining 60 will be filled by Invenergy at a facility near Peetz in Logan County.


"The development of these two wind facilities will increase our Colorado wind generation by more than 50 percent and further our plan of aggressively pursuing the development of wind power in Colorado," said David Eves, Xcel Energy vice president of resource planning and acquisition, in a statement Wednesday. "We believe wind energy will continue to be an increasingly important generation resource for our customers."


Xcel said the addition of wind power is part of an overall plan by the company to introduce a variety of new electrical generation sources to meet customer demand.


It also puts Xcel in good position to meet the requirements set forth by Amendment 37, which was passed by Colorado voters in November.


The law requires that 3 percent of the power sold by utilities come from renewable sources. That number jumps to 6 percent in 2011 and to 10 percent by 2015.


The addition of the two new facilities brings Xcel's wind production to 351 megawatts, which is more than 4.5 percent of its production.


The timing of the request last fall was also intend to take advantage of federal production tax credits on wind energy, which are set to expire Dec. 31.


To see more of The Pueblo Chieftain, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.chieftain.com. Copyright (c) 2005, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


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