Global Weather Corp. Delivers Cost-Saving Wind Forecast Service to Xcel Energy

September 18, 2012 | By

Utility saves $17 million and counting

Global Weather Corp. (GWC) announced completion of the first full-year operational deployment of its WindWXSM energy forecast service with Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL). This follows a multi-year R&D collaboration to develop the core technology, involving the nation’s number one wind power provider, Xcel Energy, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the world’s leading atmospheric research laboratory. The result is a new global standard for accuracy in wind power forecasting.

With WindWXSM, Xcel Energy estimates that it had about $2 million in incremental savings in 2011. In combination with previous collaboration efforts, Xcel Energy estimates that it has reduced its forecasting error by approximately 28 percent since 2009, for an annual recurring savings estimated at $6.7 million, or about $17 million through the second quarter of this year.

WindWXSM forecasts are provided every 15 minutes on a 24/7 basis for all of Xcel Energy’s service territory, which covers the nation’s heartland from Minnesota to Colorado to Texas. The WindWX system uses real-time wind turbine-level operating data to refine proprietary weather prediction models and applies sophisticated algorithms to forecast the amount of wind power that will be produced out to168 hours. The forecast is designed to help utilities make decisions about powering down less-efficient power plants when sufficient winds are forecasted, and to optimize allocation of wind resources in the energy market.

“Wind power is expected to represent at least 17 percent of the energy we provide in Colorado today, as we approach our goal of 30 percent renewable energy by 2020,” said David Eves, President and CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “GWC’s high accuracy forecasts are critical to achieving this goal.”

In the early morning hours of April 15, 2012, Xcel Energy’s system in Colorado also reached a significant milestone, and served 56.7 percent of its load with wind energy.

“Wind power production is difficult to forecast due to its variability, and inaccurate forecasts are costly,” said Xcel Energy Senior Trading Analyst Drake Bartlett. “The precision wind power forecasting service provided by GWC has significantly reduced our forecast error and allows us to know when to turn up or turn down coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. This saves us millions in production and market trading costs.”

“Our work with NCAR and Xcel Energy has enabled us to provide the most accurate wind power service globally,” said GWC CEO Mark Flolid. “We constantly monitor the accuracy of our forecast to ground truth at the wind farm which results in millions of dollars in measurable savings, because our customer has consistently better information to make critical scheduling and trading decisions.”

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