Xcel sets world record with 55.6% wind energy penetration

Minneapolis-based utility Xcel Energy set a world record early on the morning of Oct. 6, with 55.6 percent of the electricity on its Public Service of Colorado (PSCo) system between the hours of 4 and 5 a.m. coming from wind power, according to the Denver Post.

The Post’s Mark Jaffe quoted AWEA’s Manager of Transmission Policy, Michael Goggin, as saying that the previous record of 53 percent was achieved in Spain in 2009. According to the article, "Improved wind farm forecasting, energy trading and grid operating improvements are allowing more wind power to be used, Xcel executives said."

Wind power has faced skepticism for many years (though most of it has come from, or been funded by, competing energy sources) on grounds that its variability cannot be accommodated on utility systems. This is an odd claim, since utilities must already balance the amount of electricity they supply with frequent variations in customer demand, both throughout a typical day and from season to season during the year. Records like the one set by Xcel show just how little basis there is for the assertion that wind turbines cannot be integrated with other energy sources. To quote the Post’s Jaffe, "Xcel’s experience shows that greater penetration of wind power is possible and the lights will stay on."

Tom Gray, www.awea.org