- The Southwest Power Pool has set a new record for wind penetration, serving 52.1% of its load with the renewable generation at one point on Feb. 12.
- The figure tops a previous record of about 49% wind penetration set in April by the grid operator. SPP said it is the first time a regional grid operator in the United States served more than half its load with wind power.
- SPP's installed wind generation grew by 30% last year, rising from 12 GW to more than 16 GW.
SPP is quickly adding wind generation to its resource base, and those megawatts are showing up at customers' meters. And officials say they can achieve even higher penetration levels.
“Ten years ago, we thought hitting even a 25 percent wind-penetration level would be extremely challenging, and any more than that would pose serious threats to reliability,” SPP Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said in a statement. “Since then, we’ve gained experience and implemented new policies and procedures. Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 percent wind penetration. It’s not even our ceiling."
The grid operator points out that as recently as the early 2000s, its generating fleet included less than 400 MW of wind. But SPP has approved the construction of more than $10 billion in high-voltage transmission infrastructure over the last decade, helping bring wind power from projects in the Midwest.
A year ago, SPP reached 39.1%, with peak wind output at about 9,000 MW and load around 23,000. The grid operator has a territory of more than a half million square miles, stretching from Montana and North Dakota in the north to parts of New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.