Up to 25% wind energy can be added reliably to power system: study

Washington, D.C., Dec. 14, 2006 — Results of a new study show that, under the right policies, utilities can incorporate wind power into their resource portfolio, comprising up to one-fourth of their delivered energy, without sacrificing reliability and with minor costs for absorbing the wind.

The Midwest Wind Integration Study, which was required by the Minnesota legislature in 2005 to evaluate reliability and other impacts of higher levels of wind generation and carried out independently by EnerNex Corp. and WindLogics, found that the total integration cost for up to 25% wind energy delivered to all Minnesota customers is less than one-half cent ($0.0045 cents) per kWh of wind generation.

The 25% penetration level of wind — equivalent to that provided in the U.S. today by nuclear power (20%), or natural gas and hydropower combined (25%) — is predicated on operating in the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) service area, control area consolidation (currently underway in MISO), geographic diversity of the wind power, and adequate transmission.

“Denmark and several regions in Europe have already achieved such high levels of wind energy use. What this study provides is insight into how such levels can also be accommodated here in the U.S., and the conclusion is clear: under good system conditions such as those in the MISO service territory, wind energy can be readily integrated into the utility system,” said Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG) executive director J. Charles Smith.

“The study is especially significant both because of the amount of wind involved and the fact that it was sanctioned by the Minnesota legislature,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) deputy policy director Mike Jacobs. “The Minnesota study shows that, when the wind generation is spread around the state, and MISO markets and operators do what they do best, integration costs are a small concern.”

The study scope included evaluation of reliability and costs associated with increasing wind capacity to 15%, 20% and 25% of Minnesota retail electric energy sales by 2020. The study process included a Technical Review Committee comprised of numerous stakeholders from both the private and public sector: Minnesota utilities subject to the Minnesota Renewable Energy Objective (10% by 2015), MISO, Midwest Reliability Organization/Mid-Continent Area Power Pool, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Community-Based Energy Development, U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories (Oak Ridge and National Renewable Energy Laboratory), Utility Wind Integration Group, and study contractors EnerNex and WindLogics. In particular, MISO was a key study participant that supplied power system data and technical expertise, as well as ran much of the system modeling.

The full Minnesota report, once posted, will be on the Minnesota Public Utilities website at www.puc.state.mn.us.

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