Up To 25 Percent of Minnesota Power System Can Come from Wind Energy

December 15, 2006

The recently completed Midwest Wind Integration Study shows that wind-powered generation can supply up to 25 percent of Minnesota’s retail electric energy sales and be reliably accommodated by the power system, if sufficient transmission investments are made to support it. On December 13, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission released a report about the study, which is the latest in a series examining how utilities can manage ever-larger amounts of wind power as new technology enters the mainstream

"This study is groundbreaking in its examination of the highest level of wind energy penetration ever undertaken in an authoritative U.S. power system study," said Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG) Executive Director J. Charles Smith. UWIG brings together utilities that have wind on their systems or are interested in its development. "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 Midwest Independent System Operator service territory, wind energy can be readily integrated into the utility system."

Other experts consider the study to be especially significant both because of the amount of wind involved and the fact that it was sanctioned by the Minnesota Legislature. The study is considered an important piece to achieving a higher level of wind penetration into the mix of power supplies for the Midwest.

The study was conducted independently by EnerNex Corporation and WindLogics. The results show that the total integration cost for up to one-fourth of the wind energy delivered to all Minnesota customers is less than $0.0045 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of wind generation. The 25 percent penetration level of wind 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. The study scope included evaluation of reliability and costs associated with increasing wind capacity to 15 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent of Minnesota retail electric energy sales by 2020.

Sources: December 13 American Wind Energy Association press release and December 15 story in SNL Energy’s Renewable Energy Week.