Southwest Power Pool achieves wind energy penetration record

Another regional grid operator has shattered a wind power penetration record.

At one point during the evening of Dec. 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 Dec. 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 grid 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, Exel 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.