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Garza County News

Xcel Energy Expansion Helps Meet Demands

New project will provide balance to wind energy

Published Aug. 7, 2011 @ 9:57 p.m.

With the string of 100+ days we've experienced this summer, use of electricity sky-rockets.  Meeting those demands becomes crucial.  Xcel Energy customers are now benefitting from 168 additional megawatts of cost-effective power for the summer peak season after new “Jones Unit No. 3” opened in late July, 2011.   On average, one megawatt can power about 750 typical homes in the region. 

The unit is made up of a gas-fired Siemens Energy combustion turbine with a summer capacity rating of 168 megawatts.   The unit began feeding the Excel Energy grid on June 30, 11 months earlier than originally planned and $27 million under budget.  Combined with two older gas-fed steam generating units built in 1971 and 1974, the three units now have a capacity of 654 megawatts.

The success of the Unit 3 project, combined with even higher forecasts for regional demand, has led Xcel to lay plans to add a fourth gas combustion unit at the Jones site.  Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company, an Xcel Energy company, said the success of Jones 3 bodes well for future plans to meet the needs of regional electricity customers while minimizing the impact on future rates. 

Hill added that an additional benefit from Jones 3 and its future companion units is the ability to ramp up and down quickly in response to changes in the region’s wind energy production.  Because wind is an intermittent resource, it must be balanced with other types of power generation, and gas combustion turbines are the most effective generators for balancing wind.

The Jones Generating Station is located southeast of Lubbock off U. S. Highway 84.  

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