News Column

SPS Seeking More Wind Energy

March 19, 2013

Kevin Baird, Clovis News Journal, N.M.

wind turbines

Southwestern Public Service, which provides electricity to eastern New Mexico and West Texas, has already met New Mexico's renewable energy mandate of 15 percent that will go into effect in 2015. Now SPS is seeking proposals for wind energy projects so they can increase the amount of power in the SPS grid.

"We generate power, and we purchase power," said Wes Reeves, media relations officer at SPS (Xcel Energy is the parent company). "We're always looking ahead to meet our customers needs 10 to 20 years down the road. We're looking for more power at the most economical, least expensive price."

SPS will enter a power purchasing agreement, a long term contract to sell energy to SPS, with whichever entity wins a bid.

"There are probably a lot of projects out there," said Reeves. "We're going to look for the best deal."

"It would be difficult to say when we would announce a winning bid," Reeves wrote in an e-mail, "but we would want the energy delivered by Jan. 1, 2014, so most likely we would have a decision within the next six months." Reeves also wrote that the most likely developer they choose will already have plans to build or may have turbines already under construction.

Any wind farm that begins construction prior to Jan. 1, 2014, will be eligible for the Production Tax Credit, which was extended and signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 2. The PTC offers a 2.2-cent tax credit for every kilo-watt hour produced by a utility scale wind turbine.

SPS has contracts to purchase energy from San Juan Mesa Wind Farm near Elida and the Caprock Wind Ranch near San Jon. There are three turbines at the Llano Estacado Wind Ranch in Texico that currently sell energy to the Excel Energy Wind Source program.

"We have the possibility of putting several hundred (turbines) in Curry County," said Gene Hendrick, economic development specialist at the Clovis Industrial Development Corp. "We have excellent wind here."

Although there is excellent wind, Hendrick worries that the lack of energy transmission lines with enough capacity to carry wind energy to the SPS grid will hinder developers from investing money in wind energy projects in Curry County.

Reeves said wind energy feeds about 1,500 megawatts into the SPS grid, and one single megawatt can power approximately 750 homes.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is 5 p.m. April 12.

More information can be found at Xcel Energy's website.

Source: (c)2013 the Clovis News Journal (Clovis, N.M.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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