Xcel Colorado sets U.S. record with over 60% wind

It's been a while since this happened (May 24, actually), but it's never been previously reported, and impressive enough that we don't want to let it go without a mention: Xcel Energy's Colorado system has topped its old hourly penetration record for wind (56.7%), reaching 60.5% between 1 and 2 a.m. local time on that date.

During that hour, wind power supplied 1,874 megawatts (MW) of a total load of 3,100 MW, according to an e-mail we just received from an Xcel Energy official.

To my knowledge, this share of system generation has never previously been reached by a U.S. power system. At one point a few years ago, Portugal obtained 93% of its electricity from wind, but that was facilitated by its connections with neighboring Spain's utility system.  Colorado's system, by contrast, is relatively isolated.

And the even better news is that Xcel Energy's experience with wind power has whetted its appetite for more.  The company has announced that it will expand its already large use of wind power by 30 percent with recently announced purchase agreements and direct ownership–including yet another wind farm in Colorado.

These exciting developments are further proof that it is possible for U.S. electric utilities to accommodate very high penetrations of wind power–very positive news for those who would like to see this zero-fuel, zero-pollution energy source make up a much larger share of our nation's electricity generation portfolio.

Photo credit: Twin Buttes Wind Farm, Bent County, Colorado – Josh Heyer via Wikimedia Commons.

Chart source: AWEA.

Related articles:

Wind power sets new generation, penetration records on Texas utility system, May 5, 2013
California ISO reports new wind generation record: 4,196 MW, April 9, 2013
Xcel Energy achieves wind energy milestone, March 26, 2013
California, Pacific Northwest set new wind generation records, March 5, 2013
Wind generation records fall in Texas, Colorado, Pacific Northwest, February 20, 2013
More new wind generation records: Texas, Spain, UK, February 5, 2013
Bonneville reaches new peak for wind generation: 4,344 MW, January 31, 2013
ERCOT sets wind generation record on Christmas Day, January 14, 2013
Southwest Power Pool achieves wind penetration record, December 20, 2012
ERCOT, SPP systems see record wind generation levels, November 21, 2012
Texas system operator tallies new record: 8,368 MW, June 21, 2012
WINDPOWER 2012 Update: Xcel Colorado sets new mark with 56.7% wind, June 5, 2012
Wind generation sets new records in Texas, Spain, May 22, 2012
New technology helps Texas system operator blow through wind generation records, March 12, 2012
Wind tops 25 percent of load on main Texas grid, March 5, 2012
Across U.S., wind power sets new generation records, February 13, 2012

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