I’m a big supporter of alternative energy. For the last 3 years I’ve voluntarily paid a surcharge to Xcel Energy to fund the purchase of wind power equal to the amount of electricity I consume. This program is called Windsource. I pay $2.00 per 100 kWh of electricity, and I buy 16 units of this to account for our total electrical consumption. Every month I tack on $32 to my electricity bill and have been happy in the knowledge that our entire house is powered by renewable energy.
In addition to the WindSource program that I just mentioned, Xcel also collects a “curtailment payment” from all customers to fund wind-generated electricity. This is not an optional payment. If you are a customer, you are paying it. Then the Star Tribune broke this article on June 1st, Public Paid for idled wind farms.
It turns out that in 2004 Xcel paid wind farms to idle their turbines because Xcel could not transfer the power. Xcel doesn’t have the transmission lines to accept the power. By the way, they aren’t doing much about it either as you can read in the article.
When I signed up for WindSource I asked the person “How can I insure that my money is going to wind power?”. Turns out there really isn’t a good solution for the individual consumer. Relying on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission seems like the only real option, but they may be part of the problem.
Xcel Energy customers should be mad. We should be mad for being sold a bill of goods that wasn’t true. And we should also be mad because Xcel isn’t being a responsible corporation.