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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


SPP continues adding wind

August 30, 2019 | Jason Kuiper | generation, industry, renewables
5867630 – closeup of a huge windmill against a cloudy sky

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) has seen 754 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity enter commercial operation so far in 2019.

The information was part of a generation interconnection status report released in late August, according to S&P Global. Another 1.5 gigawatts (GW), nearly all wind, is scheduled to come online in 2019, including OPPD’s 160-MW Sholes Wind Energy Center near Wayne, Neb.

All generation scheduled to come online in 2019 is concentrated in five states: Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

The report stated as of the end of 2018, SPP had about 20.6 GW of wind, in terms of nameplate capacity, which made up almost 23% of SPP’s 89,999 MW of resource capacity. That placed wind third behind natural gas with 40.3% and coal with 28.65% for the year.

Industry impact

OPPD is a member of SPP, a regional transmission organization (RTO) that has an integrated marketplace where member utilities put their wholesale power up for sale to other RTO participants. OPPD also purchases energy from the integrated marketplace. This process ensures customers have reliable energy at the most economical price.

The S&P Global article considers whether SPP’s increasing reliance on wind power might pose a reliability risk.

“I don’t think that these numbers are alarming,” Joshua Rhodes, University of Texas Energy Institute research associate said in the article. He noted that SPP’s planning reserve margin is significantly higher than that of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), who twice in August declared Energy Emergency Alerts partially due to low wind output.

A planning reserve margin is calculated as total amount of resources in excess of expected maximum peak load, as a percentage of that peak load.

Good planning

The article also notes that one difference between SPP and ERCOT is that SPP is a massive importer and exporter across multiple different boundaries. ERCOT is much more limited in terms of connectivity and power trading with neighboring grid operators.

SPP, like OPPD, plans for fluctuations in generation by ensuring a diverse mix in power generation. That diversity offers protection and reliability on days when the wind either doesn’t blow or is at speeds too high for the turbines.

In March 2019, SPP experienced a 13-GW swing in wind in an 18-hour time span, going from 14.8 GW to 1.8 GW, highlighting the need for a diverse generation mix.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

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