DENVER (AP) – Xcel Energy Inc. says a new wind energy forecasting system developed by national scientists is saving it money by helping it predict when it can power down its natural gas-fired power plants and rely on wind turbines to generate electricity instead.

The system developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research helped Xcel save nearly $6 million last year, or enough to cover Xcel’s costs of having NCAR build it.

The system is billed as being 35 percent more accurate than previous forecasting methods. Xcel uses it at wind farms in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin.

Bill Mahoney of NCAR says scientists would like to continue fine-tuning their forecasting to predict when icing might occur on turbine blades and how that can affect wind energy production.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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