- California’s wind production, which supplies 7% of the state’s electricity, has been significantly reduced in Q1 2015 thanks to unseasonable winter heat and severe drought, Reuters reports. Hydroelectric supplies are experiencing similar shortfalls.
- Southern California Edison said it has made up for a 50% shortfall in wind-generated electricity by purchasing power, largely generated by natural gas, on the spot market at higher prices. San Diego Gas & Electric, another of the state's dominant IOUs, said it replaced 10% of reduced California wind output with Montana wind. PG&E said January wind was off as well, but there was no loss of supply.
- California is at approximately 25% renewables overall, with over 5900 MW from wind. The wind shortfall raises the question of whether Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 50% renewables by 2030 mandate is achievable.
From 2011 to 2014, California's normal 18% of electricity from hydroelectric power fell to 12%, forcing increased reliance on wind and solar and increased spot market purchases. A recent report found the cost to electricity customers was over $1 billion for those 3 years, and $2.4 billion for the 6-year drought that began in 2007.
Winds across the West were down 50% in January, Reuters reports. The South and West had the worst Q1 wind performance in 47 years of record-keeping but remain in the 70% to 120% of normal range allowed in most power purchase agreements. It is not yet clear whether the slowed winds are caused by the drought or how long they will last.
Wind owner-operator Pattern Energy Group reduced its annual expected wind production outlook by 5% recently and Texas grid operator ERCOT reported a 14% Q1 drop in wind production. Texas gets 10.6% of its power from its 14,000 MW of wind but saw a record high wind output of 11,154 MW on February 19.