Environmental Leadership
August 13, 2020

Wind power matures as top renewable source

More effective and affordable, wind is just getting started.

Wind power started as an experiment some thirty years ago with funky-looking wind turbines being tested in farm fields. Through years of design modifications, wind generation has grown into a leading source of renewable energy.

Today, sleek, large turbines are working harder than ever, powering nearly 20 percent of Xcel Energy’s electric grid -- with more capacity in the works. That’s the largest portion of renewables in the energy generation mix.

The payoff: wind’s cost has declined by nearly 70 percent* over the last decade.

A basic economic rule tells us that greater use creates lower prices. And wind energy is proving this. From 2013, the average price of U.S. wind power has declined by 69 percent. A positive trend that will benefit customers.

More predictable and reliable

Capturing the wind for the electric grid is a sophisticated balancing act that involves weather conditions, temperature, customer demand and the use of other energy sources. Thanks to wind forecasting software developed by Xcel Energy, clean wind energy can be used to maximum potential on our electric grid, affordably and reliably.

For rural areas, a source of critical revenue

Wide open spaces are the hallmark of agriculture and often ideal locations for wind harvesting. Currently, U.S. wind projects pay over $1.6 billion* in state and local taxes and landowner lease payments every year, and this number only goes up as more wind projects come online. For small towns, consolidated schools and counties, that can be significant.

“With those funds, we have our own, local stream of funding allowing us to confidently make long-term investments in our district. To date, we have hired teachers, improved our buildings, and upgraded our technology.”

-          Rural School District Superintendent

Local construction and long-term jobs

Wind power has created well-paying jobs* for over 114,000 Americans. Did you realize, a wind turbine technician is the second fastest growing job title in America? It pays over $50,000 in annual salary and demand will increase by 96 percent over the next decade. Plus, the U.S. wind industry employs America’s veterans at a rate 67 percent above the national average.

The jobs needed to build, operate and maintain wind projects offer young people careers that will support their families without needing to leave home.

“These are 21st century jobs with a focus on skilled trades, mechanics, construction workers, electricians, plumbers that include using advanced technology, and make use of STEM programs.”

-          Rural Economic Development Planner

Investing in wind technology careers

The Xcel Energy Foundation has developed grants and scholarship to help foster wind technology career paths. From roles in energy operations and energy technology to power line construction and maintenance, many educational opportunities are available. Here are some of the educational facilities supported by The Xcel Energy Foundation   that are engaging students in wind energy and technology careers:

  • In Colorado, Northeastern Junior College
  • In South Dakota, Lake Area and Mitchell Technical Institutes 
  • In Minnesota, MIGIZI, a Native American nonprofit

What's more. these educational programs can help local young adults find rewarding renewable energy technology careers in and around their home towns.

Help renewable energy continue its winning ways.

To discover a renewable program that fits your lifestyle, visit Xcel Energy’s Renewable Energy Options.

* AWEA American Wind Energy https://www.awea.org/