Environmental Leadership
August 1, 2018

Colorado’s largest wind farm rises to the sky

Xcel Energy, Vestas & Mortensen Construction partner on carbon-free future

You need a calculator to count all of the wind turbine towers rising on Colorado’s eastern plains. Three hundred will be in place by October at the Rush Creek wind farm in Elbert County, just southeast of Denver. Once Rush Creek is completed, there will nearly 3,200 megawatts of total wind capacity on our system in the state. When operating, we calculate that’s enough 100 percent carbon-free wind energy to power over 1.7 million households – close to the estimated total number of homes along Colorado’s front range.

Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke was on site to inspect the progress and commented, “I’m not sure what’s more impressive: the scope and scale of Rush Creek or the fact that our largest wind farm ever is coming in on schedule and under budget.”

Ben Fowke (center), CEO of Xcel Energy checked the progress with Mortenson and Vestas leaders at
Rush Creek, the largest wind farm Xcel Energy has ever constructed.

The 600-megawatt project is a key piece of the company’s transition to a clean energy future, as a national leader in wind energy for more than a decade. Learn more about Xcel Energy’s commitment to carbon-free energy. And because wind is an energy source that doesn’t require spending on fuel, these wind turbines will also help keep bills low for Xcel Energy customers.

More wind farm projects in the works

Because of its benefits, wind energy is essential to our energy future. Last year we announced the country’s most substantial multi-state wind investment with 12 new wind projects in seven states. While Rush Creek is set to be the first project constructed, utility regulators have approved the other 11, which are now in various stages of development.

  • We’re set to break ground on the Foxtail Wind project in South Dakota (Aug. 9)
    The Hale Wind project in Texas (Aug. 14).
  • When all the projects are complete at the end of 2021, we expect to be the first energy provider to surpass 10,000 megawatts of wind capacity.

Wind: a cash crop for farmers and communities

The high-wind real estate of Rush Creek offers a notable boost for the local farm economy. Leasing arrangements for the new turbines provide farmers with a new cash crop and help support the local tax base. Also, nearby services, hotels, and restaurants in surrounding communities see a significant uptick during construction, and once it’s complete, several new full-time jobs are created to manage the wind farm. Take a look at a story from CBS4 in Denver to see how the wind is bringing change to Colorado farmers.

Bigger, quieter and more efficient wind turbines

These “next generation” wind turbines provide advantages over previous models constructed just five years ago. New computer-engineered blade design has brought more effective wind generation. By mimicking the tail of an owl, flexible fringe elements placed on the blade help reduce wind resistance, which results in less sound output from the turbine.

Each wind tower from the base to the tip of the highest blade is 135 meters or approximately 450 feet. With the larger blades and more advanced gear technology, more energy can be generated.

Learn more details about these new wind turbines in this infographic

To keep up on the latest at Rush Creek wind farm and the October completion, visit our dedicated web page