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, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The group notes the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' (ERCOT) announcement that it had set a new wind production record on its grid last week, reaching over 10 GW. AWEA says this was the most ever for a U.S. power system, the equivalent of powering more than 5 million average Texas homes.
In two previously unreported records, wind energy also supplied a record 39.7% of total ERCOT electricity demand on March 31, and two weeks ago, the Southwest Power Pool region just to the north of Texas set a new wind record with over 7.2 GW of wind production.
Nationwide, AWEA says that up to 60 GW of new wind energy development would be enabled by major transmission projects that are in advanced stages of development. The group adds that Texas is the national leader in wind energy, in part, because it has been a leader in creating policies that enable private sector investment in and open access to an expanded transmission grid.
Specifically, AWEA says Texas' recent wind records were made possible by the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines earlier this year. The lines connect wind energy resource areas in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle to electricity demand centers, and the state currently has more than 7 G MW of wind capacity under construction.
Other regions are following Texas's lead in adopting policies that will enable long-needed grid upgrades, AWEA adds. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator has adopted similar cost-allocation policies for a set of transmission lines called the Multi-Value Projects. These projects will potentially integrate nearly 14 GW of new wind capacity. Similarly, AWEA says the Southwest Power Pool has adopted a Highway/Byway transmission cost-allocation policy and is making progress toward building a set of lines called the Priority Projects, which are expected to serve more than 3 GW 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," says Michael Goggin, senior electric industry analyst for AWEA. "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."Â Â