Colorado ranks 6th in wind power

August 7, 2013

Colorado, wind energy

Which would you rather see?

This …

GarCo gas wellsOr this …

Tennessee wind turbines

Tennessee wind turbines

According to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Energy, Colorado ranked 6th in actual wind electricity generation in 2012.

The 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report revealed that Colorado installed 496 megawatts of new wind power capacity, with the capacity for about 2,301 megawatts of wind power. Wind energy generation accounted for 11.3% of Colorado’s in-state energy generation and accounted for 4,000 to 5,000 jobs last year.

In June, Governor Hickenlooper signed SB-252 into law which requires rural electric co-operatives to supply 20% of electricity from renewable resources by 2020. Other electricity providers in the state must achieve a 30% percent renewable energy standard. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will decide this fall on whether to approve another 550 megawatts of wind power proposed by Xcel Energy.

windpower1-tiff-e1375809386787The top 5 states in wind power generation are:

Iowa – 24.5%
South Dakota – 23.9%
North Dakota – 14.7%
Minnesota – 14.3%
Kansas – 11.4%

In 2012, wind energy represented 43% of all new electric additions and became the number one source of new electricity generation in the U.S. for the first time. Wind represented 43% of all new electric additions and accounted for $25 billion in investment.

In the report, U.S. Wind Energy Production and Manufacturing Reaches Record Highs, Energy, Secretary Ernest Moniz said: “The tremendous growth in the U.S. wind industry over the past few years underscores the importance of consistent policy that ensures America remains a leader in clean energy innovation. As the fastest growing source of power in the United States, wind is paving the way to a cleaner, more sustainable future that protects our air and water and provides affordable, clean renewable energy to more and more Americans.”

On Thursday, August 8 at 3:00 p.m., the DOE invites the public to “discuss the innovative projects, technologies and policies that are helping America stay competitive in this booming global industry during a special Google+ Hangout on wind energy in America.”

However the DOE also warns that problems with the manufacturing supply chain will cause a slow down in transmission capacity:

Annual wind power capacity additions in the United States achieved record levels in 2012, motivated by the then-planned expiration of federal tax incentives at the end of 2012 and recent improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technology. At the same time, even with a short-term extension of federal tax incentives now in place, the U.S. wind power industry is facing uncertain times. It will take time to rebuild the project pipeline, ensuring a slow year for new capacity additions in 2013. Continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth, and limited near-term demand from state renewables portfolio standards (RPS) have also put a damper on industry growth expectations. In combination with global competition within the sector, these trends continue to impact the manufacturing supply chain. What these trends mean for the medium to longer term remains to be seen, dictated in part by future natural gas prices, fossil plant retirements, and policy decisions, although recent declines in the price of wind energy have boosted the prospects for future growth.

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A Synapse Energy Economics report last year pointed to the need to expand the Midwest power grid in order to increase wind energy production. In other words, currently the U.S. could generate more electricity from wind turbines than is already being produced; but it is lacking the transmission pipelines to get it into the grid.

For Coloradans, Duke Energy (featured in the article below) is the company to watch for wind energy. I think we’ll be hearing more from them in the coming months.

Newly available wind power often has no place to go

… The growth of the nation’s wind-power supply is evident on a remote stretch of Kansas Highway 23, where the spinning blades of wind turbines quickly surround motorists near the town of Cimarron. The site, which has 57 turbines spread over 16,000 acres of leased farmland, is capable of powering 40,000 homes with 131 megawatts of production.

But Duke Energy and Sumitomo Corp., which brought the project online in June 2012, face significant congestion as they try to bring that energy to the market.

Greg Wolf, the renewables president at Duke Energy, wouldn’t comment on the level of congestion, but he said the bottleneck was noticeable.

“Because it’s new and because there’s variability in wind versus a traditional gas-fired unit, there’s been a learning curve here,” Wolf said. “Not to mention the fact that we’ve added a large number of new megawatts at a quick pace.”

Wolf said deficiencies in the grid and differing state policies on the placement of transmission lines were prime causes of congestion. The Southwest Power Pool, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s regional transmission operator in the area, said it experienced four to five transmission curtailments – periods of high congestion that shut down wind units – per week. Over the past eight months, those curtailments have affected up to seven sites.

“They’ve connected to the system in our region ahead of planned transmission upgrades,” said Southwest Power Pool’s director of system operations, Don Shipley. “Some of the wind farms have seen fairly significant impacts of up to 50 percent of their projected production.”

In other words, a lot of the power those farms were expecting to generate isn’t making it to the market …

… For the wind industry, tackling transmission is the key to tapping a vast resource. If the industry doesn’t increase capacity, utilities might be stuck watching their resource blow away.

“There’s enough resource there to power the United States a dozen times over by conservative estimates,” said Michael Goggin [senior analyst at the American Wind Energy Association]. “A lot of that resource is concentrated in the middle of the country, far from where people live. There’s extremely cost-effective wind left out there. We just can’t tap it, because we haven’t built out the transmission system.”

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Finally as this next article points out, wind energy is good for the economy, especially Colorado’s economy. And the greatest benefit of all—CLEAN AIR!

Wind energy works in rural Colorado

… American wind power supports more than 80,000 well-paying manufacturing and construction jobs, including close to 4,000 jobs right here in Colorado. While some of those jobs are due to new utility-scale wind projects in Colorado, most of them exist because wind power parts manufacturers have chosen our state over others. Thanks to companies like Vestas, Hexcel and Aldridge Electric calling Colorado home, manufacturing facilities in Colorado represented over $1 billion of investment in the state.

American farmers, ranchers and other landowners also benefit from renewable energy. Across the country, farmers, ranchers and other landowners can receive lease payments of up to $120,000 over a 20-year period for each wind turbine installed on their property. In Colorado alone, landowners leasing their property to wind take home approximately $7 million annually.

Wind farms in Colorado pay over $2 million in property taxes annually in Weld, Logan and Lincoln counties alone, in addition to wind lease payments to state land boards that support 17 school districts. Altogether wind power projects and supply chain facilities exist in over 25 percent of Colorado counties — Adam, Baca, Bent, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Huerfano, Jefferson, Kit Carson, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Prowers, Pueblo, Weld and Yuma.

Farmers and ranchers can feel good about wind power for another important reason — since producing electricity from wind requires no water, Colorado wind helps conserve Colorado’s valuable water resources. In fact, installed Colorado wind power saves 2.4 billion gallons of water annually, or 460 gallons per person, in the state.

Wind power benefits Colorado ratepayers too. For example, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission has publicly explained that a single wind purchase by Xcel Energy “will save ratepayers $100 million on a net-present-value basis over its 25-year term.” Overall, government data shows electricity rates increased by twice as much in the 40 states with the least wind power between 2005 and 2010 as they did in the top 10 states for wind generation. Savings like those across the state means more money can be spent toward groceries, paying for gas at the pump, or saving for a child’s college education.

The benefits aren’t all economic in nature either. Colorado can breathe happy knowing wind is keeping our air clean …

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One Comment on “Colorado ranks 6th in wind power”

  1. Mary Hughes Says:

    While we get this good news, the Koch Brothers are doing their best to try to derail the use of renewable energy sources. One of them has property here in CO. so I am pretty sure they will be pushing to stop our success in CO..

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