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How wind farms are being impacted by strong Southern Colorado winds

How wind farms are being impacted by strong Southern Colorado winds
Posted at 4:40 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 21:00:49-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — With the strong winds we’ve been seeing across Southern Colorado in the past two weeks, we wanted to know if it’s having an impact on local wind farms, specifically ones that Colorado Springs Utilities partners with.

Colorado Springs Utilities currently has a partnership with two wind farms in North East Colorado. A spokesperson for the company says the winds we’ve been seeing don’t have much of an impact if any.

Here’s why:

Colorado Springs has seen wind speeds up to 70 miles per hour during April, but once it exceeds 28 miles per hour, the generation at a wind farm no longer increases with increased wind speed

Despite the variability, it has no impact on Colorado Springs Utilities ability to deliver electricity to the community.

Springs Utilities also made an agreement with the two wind farms in Northeast Colorado a couple of years ago. It’s at a fixed-price contract, meaning it doesn't fluctuate and the agreement lasts until 2025. Therefore, no matter how much wind there is, what Colorado Springs Utilities gets remains the same.

Steve Berry works for Springs Utilities and says it's mostly the companies, investors, and owners of the wind farms and land that are benefiting.

However, Colorado Springs Utilities is benefiting with goals it hopes to achieve in less than a decade. That’s by getting more energy from renewable resources.

“The more diverse with both wind and solar, they really work well together and compliment each other. So from that standpoint, we're seeing some benefits as we continue to strive to those carbon-free goals that we have next.”

The company's energy supply will look different in the upcoming years too. They’re striving for an 80% carbon reduction by 2030.

“We're really excited about the opportunities, and so that's really our focus in the near term, and obviously then decommissioning our coal-fired plants completely by 2030,” said Berry.

About 5% of overall energy at Colorado Springs Utilities is from wind, and just under 6% is from solar. Over the next several years, they hope to increase that to 9% for wind and about 12% for solar.

“Some customers say why don't you focus more on wind or why don't you to focus more on solar. Because solar has been most beneficial in the summer months, while wind can be more beneficial in the winter months. So you can offset that seasonal imbalance by having both in your portfolio so that's really the goal,” said Berry.

Colorado Springs Utilities is also planning to have a solar farm built and up and running by the end of 2023. That would give them 27% of their energy portfolio.