Wind penetration crosses 10% threshold in nine states. Grid problems to follow?


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: If you've been watching Germany, then you know that high penetrations of wind can bring about grid instability without adequate preparation. And we recently shared with you a story out of California where the chairman of the California Energy Commission and others said the recent influx of intermittent wind and solar power is making the electric grid more fragile. Now we see a story in Today's Energy Solutions that wind is generating over 10% of available electricity in nine states.

So far, we've been able to stay ahead in most places. But the steady increase may soon cause issues. The states at risk include the 10 cited below, plus California, which has saddled itself with a long list of mandates, most of which have grid implications.- Jesse Berst


The year 2012 was a record breaker for the U.S. wind industry as the number of states getting 10% or more of their electric power from wind grew to nine from five the previous year, and nationwide wind produced 3.5% of the country's electricity. And Iowa and South Dakota produced well over 20% of their total energy supply with wind throughout 2012.


"With wind power serving as the number one source of new generating capacity in 2012, it's no surprise that wind energy is increasing its role in the overall U.S. power mix," said Elizabeth Salerno, director of industry data and analysis for the American Wind Energy Association. "We are generating enough clean, affordable, American wind energy to power the equivalent of almost 15 million homes, or the number in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio combined."


Just so you know, here are the top 10 wind producing states by percentage of wind generation in 2012:


1. Iowa: 24.5%

2. South Dakota: 23.9%

3. North Dakota: 14.7%

4. Minnesota: 14.3%

5. Kansas: 11.4%

6. Colorado: 11.3%

7. Idaho: 11.3%

8. Oklahoma: 10.5%

9. Oregon: 10.0%

10. Wyoming: 8.8%


The Today's Energy Solutions story also noted that Texas, which uses the most electricity of any state and produces the most wind power, covered 9.2% of its energy needs on the ERCOT electric grid in 2012 with wind.


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.