Helped by long-awaited investments in transmission infrastructure and new projects, wind power generation hit new highs last month in the regional grids that serve Oklahoma and Texas.
The American Wind Energy Association, a Washington-based trade group, said wind power accounted for more than 7,200 megawatts of electricity generated on March 18 for the Southwest Power Pool, the regional regional transmission organization that covers Oklahoma and parts of eight other states. That surpassed the previous record set in October (see The Oklahoman’s story).
Meanwhile, down in Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas set a new record March 26 with almost 10,300 megawatts of electricity generated from wind. That’s enough electricity to power more than 5 million typical homes. On March 31, wind power accounted for almost 40 percent of the electricity demand in the ERCOT system.
New transmission projects and ways to pay for them helped boost the wind penetration in both the Southwest Power Pool and ERCOT, the association said. The SPP’s “Highway/Byway” transmission cost plan is making progress on several projects designed to relieve transmission congestion and bring more renewable power to the regional grid.
“It may have taken a few years, but in many parts of the country, the grid is finally catching up with wind energy’s rapid growth,” said Michael Goggin, senior electric industry analyst for the association. “These recent wind energy records, and the tens of billions of dollars of new wind energy investment in the pipeline, are a product of those transmission success stories.”
Texas recently completed the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, or CREZ, a system of high-voltage transmission lines that connect wind farms in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas with large cities in the rest of the state.
“Texas has made visionary investments in its electricity infrastructure,” said Jeff Clark, executive director for regional trade group The Wind Coalition. “These investments are paying off for Texas consumers as record levels of inexpensive wind power is lowering electric bills with power that is truly ‘Made in Texas.’”
Note: Post and graphic updated 1:45 p.m. on 4/3/14 to reflect new ERCOT numbers from March 31.