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SPP sets new renewable penetration record as power prices to fall to negative

Highlights

Surpassed previous record of 80.3% from March 9

Prices drop to negative levels on more renewables

New York — Southwest Power Pool set a new renewable penetration record of 81.39% on March 14, breaking a record set less than a week ago and causing wholesale power prices to dive.

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The new renewable penetration record was reached at 5:29 am, surpassing a previous record of 80.3% set March 9 when the grid also reached a wind penetration record of 78.9%.

North Hub off-peak day-ahead locational marginal prices sank to minus $10.82/MWh for March 15, while South Hub off-peak real-time dropped to minus $6.18/MWh, according to SPP data. Off-peak real-time has averaged minus 39 cents/MWh so far this month after falling into negative territory on seven days so far this month, compared to a total of five days for all of March 2020, two days in March 2019 and one days on 2018, according to SPP data.

"SPP's renewable capacity has risen steadily and dramatically over the last decade, and we've repeatedly set and subsequently beat renewable records over that time," SPP spokeswoman Meghan Sever said March 15 in an email. "While SPP has a large percentage of renewables in our footprint, our diverse fuel mix and a robust transmission grid remain necessary to reliably dispatch the resources in our region."

The majority of SPP's renewable generation comes from wind power, which averaged 64.6% of the total fuel mix on March 14, the highest daily average on record, according to SPP data. Wind-powered generation has averaged 47.16% of the total fuel mix, up from an average of 38.7% for the same period in March 2020.

Winds of change

SPP set a record in 2020 as the first US independent system operator or regional transmission organization to have wind generation lead its fuel stack at 32%, leading the US in wind generation market share, according to SPP data.

By the end of 2020, SPP had 27.458 GW of wind capacity and five of top 10 states for wind capacity fall within its footprint, according to SPP and the American Clean Power Q4 2020 market report.

With the US consuming more renewable power, the US Energy Information Administration projected electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar to surpass nuclear and coal by 2021 and then to surpass natural gas in 2045 with the share of renewables in the US electricity generation mix expected to increase from 19% in 2019 to 38% in 2050, according to EIA data.

There is currently 32.593 GW of wind in the generator interconnection queue, with an expected 4.092 GW forecasted to be installed by the end of 2021, SPP's Sever said. In addition, there is 35.432 GW of solar in the GI queue and currently 474 MW have signed interconnection agreements and are on schedule to be built.