Utility system in NE Vermont to be strengthened, resolving concerns about new wind power

10 April 2013 by Michael Goggin Michael Goggin


In recent days, concerns have arisen about whether additional wind generation can be accommodated by the utility system in Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom," a rural four-county area that has some of the state's best wind sites.

The reason for the concern is that the utility system in the area is very "weak," with no large transmission lines. Bottlenecks on the transmission system have forced the system operator to reduce the output of one of the existing wind projects on some occasions.

This is a highly localized problem caused by the weak utility system, and would likely occur with any energy source that was added on that part of the grid. In addition, it is a fixable problem--by the end of this year, Green Mountain Power Co., the state's largest investor-owned utility will be installing a synchronous converter, a device that will strengthen the local grid and should largely resolve the problem.

The issue experienced in northeast Vermont appears to have nothing to do with wind energy's variability and accommodating that variability within utility systems, which already balance supply and demand 24/7/365 even though demand varies throughout the day and year and large conventional power plants routinely fail without warning. Nor does it mean that energy storage must be added to the system to deal with wind's variability.  Other parts of the country, such as Texas and the Midwest, have been able to integrate very large amounts of wind (10,000+ megawatts) with no negative impact on system reliability and no need for storage. Wind provided 20% of the electricity in Iowa and South Dakota last year, and more than 10% in another seven states.

Related articles:

Fact check: Debunking Howard Rich's errors on wind, March 28, 2013
Fact check: WSJ goes astray on California's integration of wind, February 28, 2013
Fact check: Wind power reducing carbon emissions in E.U., Germany, February 22, 2013
Wind generation records fall in Texas, Colorado, Pacific Northwest, February 20, 2013
Fact check: Pacific Research Institute report by Benjamin Zycher filled with inaccuracies, January 28, 2013
Despite flaws, DOE collaborative report shows more wind and transmission saves ratepayers money, January 23, 2013
Lesser misstates facts at Heritage-Exelon anti-wind briefing, November 30, 2012
Fact check: Exelon-funded report inflates wind integration costs, November 2, 2012
Western governors' report highlights utility integration reform needs, August 2, 2012
Fourteen wind energy myths debunked, June 20, 2012
Fact check: Elliott off target on wind and cost savings, June 4, 2012
Fact check: Bell missteps on utility integration of wind power, May 24, 2012
New study: Wind power can save Midwestern consumers between $3 billion and $9.5 billion annually by 2020, May 23, 2012
Fact check: Lomborg lacking on wind's economics, emissions reductions, March 23, 2012
Fact check: Silverstein errs on wind's variability, emissions cuts, February 27, 2012
Fact check: Pavlak errs on wind integration, February 14, 2012
Fact check: Trzupek Washington Times op-ed off base on wind's cost, utility integration, January 25, 2012
More wind power and utility integration: A question already being resolved, October 19, 2011
After a scorching week, wind power lessons from the Texas heat wave, August 11, 2011
Wind energy integration: Some fundamental facts, June 23, 2011

Did you know?

More Facts: