Southwest Power Pool achieves wind penetration record

Southwest Power Pool achieves wind penetration record

Another regional utility system operator has shattered a wind power penetration record.

At one point during the evening of December 2, 30.2 percent of the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) power generation came from wind—a record for the grid operator and most likely a record for any grid operator in the nation. At that time, 5,900 MW of wind power capacity was pumping electrons onto the SPP system. Then on December 5, the utility hit another wind power megawatt record, at 6,296 MW. (The percentage penetration at that time did not surpass the 30.2 percent record.)

Appropriately, the Dec. 2 news coming out of the region was referenced a few days later in a session at AWEA’s Regional Wind Energy Summit – Southwest, which took place December 5-6 in Houston.

SPP is slated to have 7,780 MW of total wind capacity on its system by the end of the year.

SPP is not the only system operator to make news during the last month concerning wind power penetration. The Friday after Thanksgiving, output from wind turbines on the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) system surpassed 10,000 MW and comprised more than a quarter of the ISO’s total power generation at the time. (To provide some perspective on that milestone, in 2006 the U.S. crossed the 10,000 MW milestone for total installed wind power capacity across the entire country.) In reporting on the record, MISO took the occasion to highlight wind’s cost-saving power.  Just a few days ago, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) achieved wind penetration of 27.63 percent of the power being generated coming from wind and also hit 26 percent recently.

As for a utility power system, Xcel Energy’s Colorado system holds the record, reaching a head-turning 56 percent at one point earlier this year.

Such numbers are further concrete evidence of what countless studies have found: large amounts of wind power can be reliably integrated onto the grid.

Related articles:

ERCOT, SPP systems see record wind generation levels, November 21, 2012
Texas system operator tallies new record: 8,368 MW, June 21, 2012
WINDPOWER 2012 Update: Xcel Colorado sets new mark with 56.7% wind, June 5, 2012
Wind generation sets new records in Texas, Spain, May 22, 2012
Across the U.S., wind power sets new generation records, February 13, 2012
Xcel sets world record with 55.6% wind penetration, November 28, 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


Michael Goggin is Vice President at Grid Strategies LLC, a DC-area consulting firm working on grid and markets issues for clean energy clients including AWEA. He was previously head of Research at AWEA.

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