EPSA member companies are hearing Americans’ call for a stronger emphasis on wind power and answering in big ways.
According to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans support expanding wind power. A 2019 Gallup poll shows 70% of Americans think the U.S. should put more emphasis on producing domestic energy from wind.
But Americans also need reliable and affordable power. Adding more wind and other renewable resources to the power grid must balance all of our energy, economic and environmental goals. Nevertheless, wind resources are an important part of the grid’s changing fuel mix.
Competition helped spur a wind production boom in the U.S., and it holds the key to further deployment of wind resources. EPSA’s member companies – America’s competitive power suppliers – are providing cost effective and efficient wind energy solutions while also operating resources to balance the grid, ensure reliability and help keep America’s lights on.
Collectively, our member companies operate nearly 2,600 megawatts of wind energy in 15 states, with an additional 744 megawatts under construction or development. As wind generation becomes cheaper, competitive suppliers will follow price signals to invest in the most cost effective resources to meet customer demand. On Global Wind Day, we explore how competition can be the foundation for smart, sustainable wind growth in the U.S.
Balancing Wind Power in an Affordable, Reliable Grid
We must ensure all power generators are able to compete to provide clean energy solutions, keeping the investment risk with companies – not consumers.
Wind energy is a renewable energy source created by using the air flows that occur naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. Wind turbines capture the kinetic energy from the wind, thus creating electricity, which travels via the transmission system to to power our homes and businesses.
It only takes wind speeds of six to nine miles per hour (mph) to start generating electricity. As wind speed increases, so does electricity production – to a point. If gusts of wind become too strong, the turbines will shut down to prevent equipment damage. And the power grid can’t always use the total amount of wind energy being generated – so grid operators will ask generators to turn off their systems to avoid disruptions or outages. This is known as curtailment. Meanwhile, wind can’t power the grid when it is not blowing, so other resources such as efficient natural gas plants must be available to ensure that the grid remains in balance during such periods.
The main types of wind energy are: onshore utility-scale and distributed or “small” wind, and offshore turbines. Today, power generated by onshore wind is often the cheapest form of electricity available on the market, making it a smart choice for investment. But until we have more storage capacity and infrastructure to address the challenges associated with its intermittency, we need other forms of power that can quickly ramp up or down to meet demand. And we must ensure all power generators are able to compete to provide clean energy solutions, keeping the investment risk with companies – not consumers.
Wind Energy in Today’s Competitive Markets
Having followed market signals to retire thousands of megawatts of coal-powered generation to transition to cleaner, low cost natural gas, EPSA members are also investing in and building wind generation capacity where it is cost effective to do so. Here are a few examples:
- bp is one of the largest operators of renewable energy, with nine onshore wind farms across six states. By developing and implementing new technologies to improve efficiency, bp’s wind farms produce enough electricity to power over 450,000 homes. bp has unlocked innovations to make wind even more efficient and affordable, such as introducing predictive analytics that can inform maintenance schedules, reduce costs and avoid breakdowns. bp is also working with Tesla to store wind energy at its Titan 1 wind farm in South Dakota – which could inform how to advance even more wind energy projects.
- Calpine Corporation is working with landowners and communities in parts of New York that enjoy robust wind resources. The company currently has two projects under development – the BlueStone Wind Project and the High Bridge Wind Project. Upon completion, these projects will produce 224 MW of power.
- Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) is strengthening America’s infrastructure by identifying key areas of need for new power and developing, constructing and operating the most environmentally and technologically advanced generating facilities in the country. CPV has a strong track record of developing more than 4,500 MW of wind generation and growing. CPV’s Keenan II wind farm features 66 2.3MW turbines. Keenan II generates enough electricity to power approximately 45,000 average Oklahoma homes and avoid approximately 413,000 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of taking nearly 72,000 cars off the road.
- LS Power‘s newly proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project in Idaho could become one of the largest wind farms in the nation, generating 1,000 MW of wind power. In addition, LS Power also has two operating wind farms in the Northeast. The Kibby Wind facility in Maine generates 132 MW of power and the Jericho Power facility in New Hampshire generates 14 MW of power.
- TransAlta has 21 wind farms worldwide, including 907 wind turbines with the capacity to generate 1,419 MW of wind energy – enough to power more than one million homes. In the U.S., TransAlta has two wind farms – the 144 MW Wyoming Wind facility and the 50 MW Lakeswind facility in Minnesota.
- Tenaska Clear Creek Energy Center, which achieved commercial operation May 4, is a 242 MW wind farm in Missouri, comprised of 111 turbines spanning 31,000 acres. In addition, the Nobles 2 Wind Project in currently under construction in Minnesota. Upon completion, this wind farm will include 74 turbines, generating 250 MW of renewable power.
Competition Drives Us Forward
Competitive suppliers focus on consumer needs – reliable and increasingly cleaner power at the lowest cost. A competitive market model keeps the pressure on power providers to deliver the best solutions to meet those needs. This matters for individuals, the economy, and the industry as a whole, because competition is what drives us forward.
EPSA members are hearing Americans’ call for a stronger emphasis on wind power and answering in big ways. We’re proud to represent competitive suppliers who are dedicated to the affordable, reliable advancement of the electricity grid.
Learn more about competitive markets in our blog post: Power Markets 101.
Update: As of December 2020, Tenaska completed construction of its Nobles 2 Wind Project in Minnesota.