Winds of Change: The Environmental Movement and the Global Development of the Wind Energy Industry

By Ion Bogdan Vasi | Go to book overview

5
Going with the Wind:
The Environmentalist Transformation of the
Electricity Sector

Our customers and local communities expect us to protect the environ-
ment, and as the world becomes increasingly concerned with global
climate change, environmental leadership has grown in importance
for our shareholders, employees and the future of our company.
Environmental leadership means that as we provide energy services to
our customers, we will pursue clean energy innovation, transforming
how energy is provided.

—Xcel Energy, http://www.xcelenergy.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/
docs/2007TBLFull.pdf#page=4 (accessed December 2008)


The Greening of the Electricity Sector

Xcel Energy, the fourth-largest natural gas and electricity company in the United States, started investing in wind power in 1997.1 In early 1998, Xcel already operated thirteen wind turbines and had signed up more than four thousand of its customers to purchase 9.6 MW of wind power through its Windsource program. By 2001, Xcel operated wind farms that could produce up to 60 MW of wind power and had more than seventeen thousand wind power customers. By 2008, Xcel operated 2.7 GW of wind power and had a program that was the number one voluntary green-energy program in the country, with more than seventy thousand customers participating.2

Although Xcel was one of the first major electric utilities in the world to develop or operate wind farms, more and more utilities are doing this nowadays. In many countries, the electricity sector has undergone two significant transformations over the last two decades.3 First, wind turbine manufacturing

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