News roundup: Xcel hits milestone, Ohio businesses defend AEPS, Texas looks at summer power

2 May 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

As the weekend (and WINDPOWER 2014) approaches, Xcel announces a new wind power record, Ohio stakeholders push to maintain the state AEPS, and Texas ups its summer power outlook.

Xcel Energy, AWEA’s utility of the year, announced yesterday that it had a cleared a major milestone with its wind power portfolio. SC Times:

  • MINNEAPOLIS – Xcel Energy issued a news release Wednesday declaring that it had achieved a milestone when 46 percent of customers' electricity needs in the Upper Midwest were met by wind energy at 3 a.m. Sunday.
  • That's an all-time high for Minneapolis-based electric and gas utility Xcel, which recently was named the nation's top wind power provider for the 10th straight year. At the time of the record, 1,622 of 3,512 megawatts were being produced by wind turbines.
  • "Wind energy brings great value to our customers as a cost-effective and clean resource," said Dave Sparby, president and CEO of Northern States Power. "As we've added more wind power, we've learned a lot about how to reliably and safely integrate wind energy onto our system. And, by using state-of-the-art wind forecasting tools, we have saved Upper Midwest customers more than $15 million in fuel costs since 2009."

In Ohio, manufacturers and other stakeholders are working hard to preserve the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, spurring clean energy investment and jobs in the Buckeye State. The Plain Dealer’s John Funk:

  • COLUMBUS, Ohio --- Freezing state energy programs for three years -- as Republican lawmakers are preparing to do -- won't help consumers or most businesses, but it will leave intact provisions that "tilt the balance" away from customers and to electric utilities. That's the bottom line in an analysis completed by the Ohio Consumers' Counsel and the Ohio Manufacturers' Association.
  • "I appreciate, in concept, the idea of a study committee," Weston said. "It would be preferable, however, to not freeze the (annual) energy efficiency and renewable benchmarks while the study ... is in progress. Any changes in the law could be made after the study committee completes its report."
  • Efficiency and renewable proponents see the proposed bill and 36-month freeze as a ruse to permanently kill the programs that have led to more than $600 million in wind farm developments alone and hundreds of millions of dollars more in efficiency upgrades and solar installations. They argue that wind and solar industries will head to other states, and that the pace of efficiency upgrades in Ohio will stall.
  • The 2008 legislation was signed into law six years ago today, making Ohio one of the early states trying to reduce the need for more coal-fired power plants.

Texas is getting ready for the summer heat, and thanks in part to wind power, things are looking manageable. The Star Telegram’s Jim Fuquay:

  • Boosted by new power plant capacity expected to be available by August, Texas should have adequate electricity supplies this summer, according to the state’s largest power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
  • ERCOT also said it expects its reserve margin — the amount of available resources over forecast demand — to remain just above its 13.75 percent target through 2017. By August, the margin is expected to be 15.3 percent. The Austin-based agency said it added two new power plants to its long-term schedule since February: a 299-megawatt wind farm expected to be in service in 2015, and a 703-megawatt gas-fired facility expected in 2016.
  • That margin could go even higher if ERCOT changes the way it counts the state’s wind power capacity, which at more than 11,000 megawatts is the nation’s largest. ERCOT historically has included only 8.7 percent of wind capacity in its capacity outlook, in recognition of wind’s intermittent output. But in March it called that figure “conservative” and said a new analysis shows that 14 percent of capacity can be expected from the West Texas wind farms and that coastal wind farms could operate at 27 percent.

Be sure to check out this week’s other roundups:

Sources:

Staff, “Xcel hits wind-power milestone, reports cold-boosted 1Q.” SCTimes. 1 May 2014.

John Funk, “Consumers Counsel and Ohio Manufacturers Association fight to preserve energy standards.” The Plain Dealer. 1 May 2014.

Jim Fuquay, “Texas summer power outlook improving, ERCOT says.” Star-Telegram. 1 May 2014.