Skip to main content

Xcel CEO says wind is now cheaper than natural gas, plans for more wind farms


Minnesota and the wider Midwest is likely to be a hotspot for wind power in the coming decades, after Xcel Energy's CEO said it is becoming a cheaper source of energy than natural gas.

In what it describes as a "another sign of the rapid transformation of the power market," Bloomberg spoke with Ben Fowke, of Twin Cities-based Xcel, regarding its plans for the future.

Xcel, which provides power in eight states including Minnesota, is already the biggest provider of wind power in the U.S., and is expected to make a considerable investment in more of it over the next 15 years, during which time Fowke said the company wants to add 1,600 megawatts of wind energy to its system.

"We have a plan to add significant amounts of wind to our system," Fowke said, adding that Xcel has been signing 20-year agreements to buy wind power at a cost of $25 per megawatt-hour, compared to the $32 he expects natural gas to cost over the next two decades.

"When we're buying wind at $25, it's a hedge against natural gas," he said.

Xcel has been making some major changes as it plans for the future, announcing earlier this month that by 2026 it will shut down two out of the three coal-fired units at its biggest power plant in Minnesota, Sherco in Becker, which between them generate 1,500 megawatts of energy.

It comes amid national legislation set out under the EPA's Clean Power Plan which requires power plants to reduce their carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030 – with Xcel well on the way to achieving that goal.

Xcel currently generates 15 percent of its electricity in the Minnesota region from wind, the Star Tribune reports, (though Fowke said that can rise up to 60 percent during high winds), and 37 percent from coal.

As it goes forward, Xcel expects a third of its energy in Minnesota and the Dakotas to be generated by wind and solar by 2030, with just 15 percent coal, the newspaper notes.

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

redmons popcorn colbert 2

Support grows for Redmon's Popcorn after shop's sudden closure

The county also commented on the situation, saying it hopes to help owner Zack Redmon.

prior lake high school

Prior Lake HS investigating another 'racist' video involving student

The principal said the social media video was reported to them this week.

Screen Shot 2021-12-03 at 3.08.27 PM

Walz: Minnesota has secured 1 million rapid, at-home COVID tests for kids

It comes as the delta variant continues to surge in Minnesota, and the omicron variant might follow.

boundary waters

Forest Service limiting permits to BWCAW due to damage, overcrowding

Visitors have been cutting down trees and have been forced to compete for campsites.

police lights

Lockdown update: Armed man threatened to go to Kimball High School

A high school and elementary school near St. Cloud went into lockdown as a precaution.

chaska sewer

People in Chaska are flushing the wrong crap down the toilet

Water and sewer crews in Chaska have had to clean the same pump four times in the past seven days.


Xcel plan gone with the wind

The Minneapolis-based utility says its wind energy plans are stalled with a tax credit set to expire. Xcel Energy is an industry leader in wind power, but officials say additional projects wouldn't be cost effective without tax subsidies. A national energy association predicts without the credit nearly 40 thousand jobs will be lost.