Xcel sets sights on hitting wind energy milestone

In four years, it could have enough wind energy to power every home in Minnesota.

Xcel Energy has revealed plans to solidify its position as the biggest wind power company in the country.

It announced on Wednesday it will build a new 300-megawatt wind farm in South Dakota, which would put it on pace to generate more than 10,000 megawatts of wind energy in its system by 2021.

If it becomes the first utility in the U.S. to reach this milestone, Xcel would be able to generate enough energy from wind alone to power every home in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Dakota Range I and II project is being developed by Apex Clean Energy and will be built north of Watertown, just west of the Minnesota border.

The project will on its own generate enough energy to power 157,000 homes, adding to Xcel's growing suite of renewable energy sources.

The utility is already the nation's biggest wind provider and has been for more than a decade. The Dakota project is one of 13 wind farm projects it's proposing in seven states, which between them would add 3,680 megawatts to its system.

Three of these, the Blazing State I and II and the Lake Benton wind project, are planned for Minnesota.

Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said: "The Dakota Range project is important because it shows us that the American wind industry continues to deliver clean, reliable, cost-competitive energy even as the value of the production tax credit is reduced."

Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota can request to receive their energy solely from wind power already, through the company's Windsource program.

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