The SouthwestPower Pool Inc. reported April 5 that it has set a new all-timewind penetration record, bringing the Great Plains states grid operator to theedge of becoming the first RTO to get 50% of its electricity load from windpower at particularly gusty times.
At 2:02 a.m. that day, wind farms throughout the SPP region,including those in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and parts of Missouri, Texas andArkansas, among other states, pumped out enough electricity for wind to supply48.32% of the load in SPP, the highest ever for the RTO. It was also a newrecord for all North American ISOs and RTOs, SPP said in a tweet.
SPP's previous wind penetration record, according tospokesman Derek Wingfield, was 45.1%, set on March 7. A swift build-out of windfacilities in the past several years, as developers raced to qualify for taxcredits that were recently extended by Congress, has made regions such as SPP'sincreasingly heavy in wind power capability and helped make the use of previousunheard-of levels of wind generation almost routine.
"We expect to cross the 50% threshold this year. Weadded 5,130 MW of wind power to our footprint over the last year, 900 MW ofwhich were added only in October when the Integrated System joined SPP,"the organization's Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said in an email."We're just now starting to see those additions' full output as we enterinto a time of year that's typically both windy and mild, which adds up tolower total loads and more of that load being served by wind."
The Integrated System added most of North Dakota and SouthDakota and parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Wyoming and Montana to SPP.
SPP has more than doubled the amount of wind capacity on itssystem over the last five years, according to S&P Global MarketIntelligence data. 2016 is on track to be possibly the biggest year for wind inthe region yet, with over 4,100 MW of new wind capacity making up about 81% ofall new power capacity projected to be added in SPP during 2016.
When counting fewer windy days, the wind penetration ratesare much lower. The average wind penetration for SPP in 2015 was about 14%,according to Wingfield.
SPP, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. and theMidcontinent Independent SystemOperator Inc. all set new wind power records of each other in February.But those records did not last long, perhaps not surprisingly given that Aprilis generally the windiest month of the year, based on U.S. Energy InformationAdministration data about wind farm capacity factors.
The latest wind penetration level also pushed SPP overERCOT, which coordinates the grid in most of Texas, the state with the highestinstalled wind power capacity in the nation. ERCOT set its most recent windpenetration record of 48.28% on March 23, spokeswoman Robbie Searcy said.Earlier this year, ERCOT was ahead of SPP with 45.14% wind penetration on Feb.18, compared to 43.9% in SPP on Feb. 19.
MISO, whose region borders much of SPP's region, also inFebruary set its record of meeting 20.4% of load using wind power, according tospokesman Andy Schonert.