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Wind power sets records on Oklahoma, Texas electric grids

New transmission projects have eased some of the congestion in the grid after the rapid growth of wind farms in the central United States. Wind set a record last month in the regional transmission organization that serves Oklahoma and eight other states.
by Paul Monies Published: April 3, 2014

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.

Wind power accounted for 7,202 megawatts of electricity March 18 in the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization that covers Oklahoma and parts of eight other states. That surpassed the previous record of 6,448 megawatts set in October. The data was compiled by the American Wind Energy Association.

The Southwest Power Pool has 7,765 megawatts of wind capacity, so last month’s record meant the system used almost 93 percent of its wind generating capacity March 18.

Most days, coal is the top generating fuel for the Southwest Power Pool, which has more than 570 generating plants. On Thursday afternoon, coal provided 62 percent of the electricity, followed by natural gas at 17 percent and wind at 16 percent.

In Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas set a new record March 26 with 10,296 megawatts of electricity generated from wind. That’s enough electricity to power more than 5 million typical homes. On Monday, 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 American Wind Energy Association said. The pool’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.

Under the Highway/Byway plan, each utility member in the Southwest Power Pool pays a share of the costs based on its customer base, usage and voltage size of the transmission project. The organization’s latest plan shows $1.5 billion in new transmission projects over the next 10 years. Its 20-year plan, which focuses on high-voltage transmission lines of 345 kilovolts, has projects totaling another $560 million.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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