March 1, 2017 Read More →

U.S. Midwestern Grid Manager Aims for 75% Wind Penetration

RTO Insider:

Fresh off setting the wind penetration record for North American RTOs, Southwest Power Pool is setting its sights even higher.

The RTO’s two most recent studies of wind and other variable resources analyzed wind- penetration levels as high as 60% and found that the RTO has the potential to serve 75% of its load with wind, Operations Vice President Bruce Rew told SPP’s Variable Generation Integration Workshop on Wednesday.

But why stop there? Asked how high a penetration level SPP could handle, Casey Cathey, SPP’s manager of operations analysis and support, replied with a smile: “As high as you want.”

That’s a big change, Cathey said, recalling “we were freaking out about 20% in 2009.”

SPP set the record for wind penetration at 4:30 a.m. Feb. 12, topping out at 52.1%, with several hours also registering above 48.5%. (See related story, SPP First RTO to 50% Wind

Energy Penetration Level ( The RTO has set seven wind peaks in the last 14 months, the latest coming Feb. 9 when the footprint produced 13,342 MW of wind energy.

“We’ve been studying [wind] at higher load levels than SPP’s minimum [load] at times,” Rew said. “With nukes and hydro, we could have a majority of our load being served by [non- thermal generation] using the existing system we have now.”

SPP currently has 87,635 MW of generating capacity, with gas (42%) and coal (31%) providing the great bulk of it. Wind accounts for 18% of the capacity (16,124 MW of nameplate generation), with hydro (4%) and nuclear (3%) trailing. An additional 32 GW of wind capacity is in the interconnection queue, along with more than 4 GW of solar.

Cathey said a “good” wind-capacity factor is around 30%, but SPP’s newest wind projects have factors of more than 50%. “Maybe not all that 32 [GW] will be installed, but we know we’ll have more than 16” GW, he said.

SPP Eyes 75% Wind Penetration

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