U.S.: Four States Have Surpassed 10% Wind Energy Penetration

Other leading states in terms of new capacity (each with more than 500 MW) include Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Illinois, New York, and Washington. Thirteen states added more than 200 MW each in 2009.

On a cumulative basis, Texas continued to build on its lead in 2009, with a total of 9,410 MW of wind power capacity installed by the end of the year. In fact, Texas has more installed wind power capacity than all but five countries worldwide.

U.S. states following Texas in cumulative installed capacity are Iowa, California, Washington, and Oregon. Sixteen states had more than 500 MW of wind power capacity as of the end of 2009, with fourteen topping 1,000 MW, and three topping 2,000 MW. Although all wind farm projects in the United States to date have been installed on land, offshore wind farm development activities continued in 2009.

Some states are beginning to realize relatively high levels of wind energy penetration. Wind energy penetration can either be expressed as a percentage of in-state load or in-state generation. In-state generation is used here, primarily because wind energy is often sold across state lines, which tends to distort penetration levels expressed as a percentage of in-state load.

To estimate these figures, end-of-2009 wind power capacity is translated into estimated annual wind electricity production based on estimated state-specific capacity factors that derive from the project performance data reported later in this report. The resulting state-specific wind electricity production estimates are then divided by the latest data on total in-state electricity generation available from the EIA (i.e., 2009).

The resulting wind energy penetration estimates differ from what AWEA provides in its U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report (AWEA 2010a). The most significant source of these differences is that AWEA uses preliminary data on actual 2009 wind electricity generation from EIA, while this report estimates annual wind electricity generation based on the amount of wind power capacity installed at the end of 2009.

By this metric, four Great Plains states lead the list in terms of estimated wind energy as a percentage of total in-state generation. Specifically, the wind power capacity installed as of the end of 2009 is estimated, in an average year, to be capable of generating approximately 19.7% of all in-state electricity generation in Iowa, 13.3% in South Dakota, 11.9% in North Dakota, and 10.7% in Minnesota. Five additional states surpass the 5% mark by this metric, while twenty states exceed 2%.

Some utilities are achieving even higher levels of wind energy penetration into their individual electric systems. Included here are wind power projects either owned by or under long-term contract with these utilities for use by their own customers; short-term renewable electricity and renewable energy certificate purchases are excluded. 

In calculating these figures, several issues deserve mention. First, the utility-specific capacity data that AWEA released in its U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report are used, with two exceptions: (1) the Empire District Electric Company, with 255 MW of wind power under contract at the end of 2009, was added to AWEA’s “top twenty” investor-owned utility list at position number 14 (and ranks 19th in our combined list of all utility types); and (2) Minnkota Power Cooperative’s wind power capacity was corrected to 357 MW (AWEA (2010a) shows 290 MW).

Second, only utilities with more than 100 MW of wind power capacity are included in the calculation of wind energy as a proportion of retail sales. Third, projected wind generation based on each utility’s installed wind power capacity at the end of 2009 is divided by the aggregate national retail sales of that utility in 2008 (which is the latest full year of utility-specific retail sales data provided by EIA).

Fourth, in the case of generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives and power authorities that provide power to other cooperatives and municipal utilities (but do not directly serve retail load themselves), 2008 retail sales from the electric utilities served by those G&T organizations and power authorities are used.

In some cases, these individual utilities may be buying additional wind power directly from other projects, or may be served by other G&T cooperatives or power authorities that supply wind. In these cases, the penetration percentages shown here may be somewhat misleading.

As an example, the “MSR Public Power Agency” (MSR) is a joint powers agency created to procure power for municipal utilities in the California cities of Modesto, Santa Clara, and Redding. The 8.4% penetration rate represents MSR’s power purchase agreement with the 200 MW Big Horn wind power project in Washington state. Two of the three municipal utilities participating in MSR, however, purchase additional wind energy from other wind power projects. The result is that if one were to look at these three municipal utilities individually rather than as a group through MSR, their penetration rates would be considerably higher than the 8.4%.

As shown, Minnkota Power Cooperative is estimated to have achieved 38% wind energy penetration by this metric, while a total of nine utilities are estimated to have exceeded 10%.

Offshore Wind Power Project and Policy Developments Accelerated in 2009

Offshore wind power projects totaling 689 MW were installed globally in 2009, bringing worldwide offshore capacity to 2,110 MW. The vast majority of this capacity is located in Europe. In contrast, all wind farm projects built in the United States to date have been sited on land.

The availability of low-cost land-based wind energy, regulatory delays and uncertainty associated with offshore development, turbine supply shortages, high and uncertain offshore project costs, and public acceptance concerns have so far hampered progress in the offshore sector in the United States.

Nonetheless, there is interest in offshore wind energy in several parts of the country, driven by the proximity of offshore wind resources to large population centers, advances in technology, potential local economic development benefits, and superior capacity factors (and, in some instances, peak load coincidence) compared to the finite set of attractive and developable land-based wind power projects available in some regions.

Proposed offshore wind power projects in the United States that have advanced significantly in the permitting and development process. These projects have either made substantial progress towards receiving state approval or have received a lease or “interim limited lease” from the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS).

In total, these proposed projects equal 2,476 MW, and are primarily located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, though notable proposed projects also exist in the Southeast, Great Lakes, and Gulf of Mexico. Even these “advanced stage” projects are in various stages of development – some or even many may never be realized, while other projects not identified in the figure are also under consideration.

Offshore wind energy prices are substantially greater than those presented later for land-based wind energy.

Several other project-level announcements in 2009 and early 2010 demonstrate the accelerating pace of offshore wind power development in the United States. Most notably, after nine years in the permitting process, the 468 MW Cape Wind project was granted approval by MMS in April 2010, following the 2009 completion of MMS’s Final Environmental Impact Statement as well as the state and local permitting process. Cape Wind also selected a turbine supplier in 2010 (Siemens 3.6 MW wind turbines), received FAA approval, and filed a PPA for consideration before the state’s utility regulatory commission.

In Delaware, NRG Bluewater Wind was awarded an interim limited lease by MMS in 2009, and a contract with the University of Maryland was announced for an additional 55 MW of the project’s output (i.e., in addition to the 200 MW contract with Delmarva). In New Jersey, NRG Bluewater Wind, Garden State Offshore Energy, and Fisherman’s Energy were all awarded interim limited leases by MMS in 2009, and each is benefiting from a state funding cost share for meteorological testing.

Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture between Public Service Enterprise Group and Deepwater Wind, was selected by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in 2008 to receive a $4 million grant from the state in support of a 350 MW offshore wind farm project, with additional agreements with NRG Bluewater Wind and Fisherman’s Energy following.

In Rhode Island, the PPA for the 28.8 MW Block Island demonstration project was initially rejected by the state’s public utilities commission in March 2010, but subsequent state legislation has led to contract modifications and re-submittal to the commission in June 2010 for further consideration; in early 2009, Rhode Island signed a joint development agreement with Deepwater Wind under which Deepwater was selected as the state’s preferred offshore wind power project developer for both the demonstration project and a subsequent, larger project.

In Ohio, the final feasibility study for a 20 MW offshore wind power project was completed in 2009, and an agreement was signed in 2010 for the purchase of five 4 MW GE turbines; GE’s purchase in 2009 of offshore turbine manufacturer ScanWind presumably helped enable the agreement. In December 2009, the New York Power Authority issued a request for proposals to select developers for projects of at least 120 MW (and up to 500 MW) in Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario; five responses were received, and selections are expected in late 2010 or early 2011.

The Long Island Power Authority, Consolidated Edison, and the New York Power Authority are also collaborating on a possible offshore wind power project off the coast on Long Island, with an application for a federal lease currently anticipated in 2010. In North Carolina, Duke Energy signed a contract in October 2009 with UNC Chapel Hill to install three demonstration turbines in Pamlico Sound; Duke Energy will pay for the turbines and their installation. Finally, Texas has state authority over permitting to 10 miles offshore, and a number of leases have been issued to projects in various stages of development.

In addition to these project-level developments, policy and regulatory activity related to offshore wind energy deployment continued. Following the early 2009 announcement of MMS’s rules governing offshore wind power development leases, easements, and royalties, the federal government has moved towards implementation.

The creation of a new regional MMS office to coordinate and appropriately expedite renewable energy development on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf was announced in 2010, for example, as was the creation of the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, through which the Department of the Interior and East Coast states will facilitate federal-state cooperation on offshore wind power development on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Earlier in 2009, MMS and FERC came to agreement on their respective roles in offshore energy development. MMS subsequently began to issue limited leases for five years of resource testing under an interim policy. Then, in April 2010, MMS released a Request for Information (RFI) for commercial leasing for wind power on the outer continental shelf off of Delaware. The RFI invites interested parties to submit descriptions of their interest in obtaining a commercial lease in specific areas off the coast of Delaware. The RFI details information that developers should submit and all parties are invited to submit information on environmental issues of concern. MMS (now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy) is required to issue leases competitively, and the RFI is the first step in determining if there is competitive interest in wind energy off the Delaware coast.

At the state level, the final Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan was released in December 2009, which (among other provisions) encourages community-scale offshore wind power development, creates a formal role for regional planning authorities in offshore energy planning, and identifies two larger designated offshore wind energy areas in state waters.

In Maine, legislation was passed in 2010 establishing a goal for at least 300 MW of offshore wind energy by 2020 and 5,000 MW by 2030, and implementing other regulatory changes intended to facilitate offshore wind power development in the state; Maine also received Recovery Act funds from DOE to support offshore wind energy research, testing, and demonstration projects. Finally, in late 2009, three Mid-Atlantic states (Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia) signed an agreement to work together collaboratively on regional offshore wind power development.

Primary authors: Ryan Wiser, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Mark Bolinger, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. With contributions from Galen Barbose, Naïm Darghouth, Ben Hoen, and Andrew Mills (Berkeley Lab), Kevin Porter and Sari Fink (Exeter Associates), Suzanne Tegen (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)