FARGO-Xcel Energy has announced its largest-ever wind power initiative.

The utility will seek regulatory approval to add 1,550 megawatts of wind capacity, including 250 megawatts from two North Dakota projects.

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The initiative, which includes seven wind farms in all, was announced Thursday, March 16, and is expected to generate almost $200 million in property taxes over the life of the projects, including $30 million in North Dakota.

All of the projects will be eligible to fully tap production tax credits for wind farms, a federal incentive that is being phased out over the next several years, making the projects more affordable.

"We're trying to capture the opportunity presented by the production tax credit that is presenting such low, low prices on behalf of our customers," said Laura McCarten, Xcel's regional vice president.

Xcel customers will save more than $4 billion over 30 years, she said. The projects include some wind farms the company announced last fall, including Foxtail Wind, a $150-megawatt wind farm in Dickey County in southeastern North Dakota. The project is developed by NextEra Energy Resources.

Xcel, which the American Wind Association has ranked the No. 1 utility for wind power sales, now has generating capacity for 2,600 megawatts of electricity from wind. Last year, 16 percent of Xcel's energy came from wind.

That will increase to almost 30 percent by 2030, when more than 60 percent of Xcel's energy will come from carbon-free sources, including wind and nuclear power.

Xcel already has two large wind farms in North Dakota, with a combined generating capacity of 350 megawatts.

The 200-megawatt Courtenay Wind Farm in Stutsman County provides property tax revenues of $850,000 a year and will pay landowners $26 million over 20 years. The 150-megawatt Border Winds Farm near Rolla, N.D., provides $600,000 a year in property taxes and will pay landowners $20 million over 20 years.