It's been a while since this happened (May 24, actually), but it's never been previously reported, and impressive enough that we don't want to let it go without a mention: Xcel Energy's Colorado system has topped its old hourly penetration record for wind (56.7%), reaching 60.5% between 1 and 2 a.m. local time on that date.
During that hour, wind power supplied 1,874 megawatts (MW) of a total load of 3,100 MW, according to an e-mail we just received from an Xcel Energy official.
To my knowledge, this share of system generation has never previously been reached by a U.S. power system. At one point a few years ago, Portugal obtained 93% of its electricity from wind, but that was facilitated by its connections with neighboring Spain's utility system. Colorado's system, by contrast, is relatively isolated.
And the even better news is that Xcel Energy's experience with wind power has whetted its appetite for more. The company has announced that it will expand its already large use of wind power by 30 percent with recently announced purchase agreements and direct ownership–including yet another wind farm in Colorado.
These exciting developments are further proof that it is possible for U.S. electric utilities to accommodate very high penetrations of wind power–very positive news for those who would like to see this zero-fuel, zero-pollution energy source make up a much larger share of our nation's electricity generation portfolio.
Chart source: AWEA.
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