Across the country, utilities are retrofitting aging wind farms to qualify for a federal tax credit set to expire this year.


Oil & Gas 360 Publishers Note: The WSJ video has some excellent points, but does have some numbers contradicted by other sources. The video is worth your time to watch. What happens to green energy when tax credits are removed from the equation will be something to watch.

Utilities across the country are seizing a fast-expiring green energy subsidy to boost the efficiency of aging wind farms as they set ambitious goals to reduce their carbon emissions.

Xcel Energy Inc., a Minneapolis-based utility company serving customers in eight states in the West and Midwest, recently announced plans to invest as much as $1.4 billion to refurbish some of its older wind farms as it pushes to provide carbon-free electricity by 2050. The projects, which will qualify for a gradually diminishing federal tax credit set to expire this year, involve retrofitting outdated turbines with bigger blades and new technology to boost efficiency.

Xcel Chief Executive Ben Fowke said many projects slated for “repowering” were built about a decade ago, when new wind projects generated power for at least $60 per megawatt hour—roughly three times the average cost today. Mr. Fowke said retrofitting such projects can substantially reduce their higher generation costs and extend their useful lives by a decade or longer.

“You take a project that is using older technology, outfit it with the new technology, and we’re able to bring down the cost by 20%,” Mr. Fowke said. “It’s really a compelling economic proposition.”

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