U.S. wind energy output breaks records, thanks to transmission upgrades and new wind development

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Washington, D.C., April 2, 2014 — Wind energy is breaking records across the U.S., thanks to long-needed transmission upgrades that are relieving congestion on the power grid and allowing more clean energy to reach consumers. Last week, a new record was set in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), reaching over 10,000 MW of wind. This was the most ever for a U.S. power system, the equivalent of powering more than five million average Texan homes. The week before that, the Southwest Power Pool region just to the north of Texas set a new wind record with 7,202 MW of wind production.


Nationwide, AWEA's forthcoming U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2013 finds up to 60,000 MW of new wind energy development would be enabled by major transmission projects that are in advanced stages of planning. Texas is the national leader in wind energy in part because they have been a leader in creating policies that allow private sector investment and open access to an expanded transmission grid. Michael Goggin, Senior Electric Industry Analyst for AWEA added "broadly allocating the costs of transmission is key, because the reliability and economic benefits of a strong transmission grid are broadly spread, are cost effective, and upgrading the current systems is essential for maintaining a competitive electricity market."

Texas's recent wind records were made possible by the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines earlier this year, which connect world-class wind energy resource areas in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle to electricity demand centers. The lines are allowing ERCOT to nearly double its use of wind energy. The latest ERCOT planning report indicates that 8,413 MW of new wind projects have signed agreements to connect to the grid, which if all built as expected would bring around $15 billion in additional investment to the state and take ERCOT's total wind capacity to 19,478 MW. More than 7,000 MW of wind capacity are currently under construction in Texas alone.

Other regions are following Texas's lead in adopting the policies that will enable them to build long-needed grid upgrades. The Midwest grid operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), has adopted similar cost allocation policies for a set of transmission lines called the Multi-Value Projects. These projects will potentially integrate nearly 14,000 MW of new wind capacity. The Southwest Power Pool has adopted a Highway/Byway transmission cost allocation policy and is making progress towards building a set of lines called the Priority Projects, which are expected to serve more than 3,000 MW of new wind capacity.

"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. 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," continued AWEA's Goggin.

To summarize the recent wind energy generation records:

• The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) hit a national record last week, with over 10,000 MW of wind output, enough to power 5 million typical Texas homes. This is a major accomplishment as ERCOT operates the power grid for around 85% of the state, and Texas alone accounts for about 10% of U.S. electricity demand. Wind energy peaked at 10,274 MW on Thursday evening, the highest output ever recorded on the U.S. power system. On Friday morning, when demand was lower, wind output set another record, providing 38.4 percent of electricity consumed in ERCOT. ERCOT's previous record for wind output had been 9,674 MW, set in May 2013, and in April 2013 wind output had provided 35 percent of electricity demand. Jeff Clark, Executive Director of The Wind Coalition, noted "Texas has made visionary investments in its electricity infrastructure. 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.' Wind energy is a home grown success story that is demonstrating that Texas energy can power Texas."

• On March 18, wind energy output set a new record of 7,202 MW in the Southwest Power Pool region just to the north of Texas. Wind output exceeded 6,000 MW on each of March 16, 17, and 18, including setting a record on March 17 that was then broken the next day. Before that, SPP's record output had been 6,816 MW on October 10, 2013, and on April 6, 2013, SPP wind output provided a record 33.4% of electricity demand.
Further details on wind energy generation data, state-level wind energy statistics will be released in the forthcoming AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2013, to be released on April 10, 2014. This 100-page report will provide a comprehensive look at the U.S. wind energy industry, project activity by state and region, market rankings and key industry players, wind turbine characteristics, status of power offtake and electric utilities, component manufacturing, and impact of the U.S. wind energy industry. Get a glimpse through the table of contents and summary from the 2012 report.

In just over a months' time, the entire wind industry will gather in Las Vegas, Nevada for AWEA WINDPOWER 2014 Conference & Exhibition on May 5-8. Attendees of WINDPOWER can attend market sessions at the AWEA booth and hear directly from experts' market insights, upcoming activity and industry trends.

About AWEA

AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. America's wind energy industry, with 1,300 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world's largest wind power trade show, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, which takes place next in Las Vegas, May 5-8, 2014. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at the AWEA website. Find insight on industry issues at AWEA's blog Into the Wind. Join AWEA on Facebook. Follow AWEA on Twitter.

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