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Wind Power


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Major Topic Sections

Fossil-fueled Power
Non-Fossil Generation
End-Use Efficiency
Electricity T&D
Carbon Sequestration
Non-CO2 Reductions
Other GHG Reductions

Related topics in this section

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Nuclear Energy
Wind Power
Solar Thermal Elec.
Biomass Power
Geothermal Energy
Pumped Storage
Green Pricing
Green Tag Pgms.


 Wind Power Generation


Electricity generated by wind turbines produces zero emissions. Installed system and energy costs have decreased significantly and, in areas where wind resources are abundant, have become competitive with other sources.  A new wind project can be installed in 12 months, and the modularity of wind turbines allows utilities to rapidly match changing load projections. Utility deployment of advanced wind generating systems is planned to be facilitated through tax credits, the Renewable Energy Production Incentive, the DOE/EPRI Turbine Verification Program, and the Market Mobilization Collaborative for Wind Energy. Electric utility installations of wind turbines or power purchases from independent power projects have occurred or been announced in almost every state in the country.

Wind power has become the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the United States. According to the American Wind Energy Association, aThe U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing over 8,500 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity (enough to serve over 2 million homes), increasing the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50% to over 25,300 MW .

DOE, EEI, APPA, EPRI, NRECA, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and other stakeholders are in the process of forming a market mobilization collaborative to accelerate the deployment of wind energy where appropriate. DOE funding may be available to assist utilities contemplating installing wind capacity. Interested utilities should contact collaborative members for information or assistance. In addition, a DOE/Utility Resource Assessment program is being initiated to assist utilities in assessing the wind resource in their service territory.

The EPRI/DOE Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG) is a utility organization that can help other utilities evaluate the potential of wind generation. In addition to working with DOE on development of a multi-year resource monitoring program, UWIG has also published a series of brochures with information on:

  Wind energy system technology evolution
  Grid integration
  Environmental issues
  Wind resources
  Other topics of interest to the power industry

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 Power Partners Projects

AES Corporation
currently operates 600 MW of wind facilities and is pursuing another 2,000 MW of wind projects in development, primarily in the United States. The company plans to triple its investment in wind generation over the next three years, and is exploring wind projects in North America, Europe, China, India, and Central and South America.

Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. (AECI) of Springfield, Missouri, is collaborating with Wind Capital Group and John Deere Wind Energy on three new Missouri-based wind projects. AECI will purchase the electricity from the wind farms and deliver it through a network of six regional generation and transmission cooperatives and 51 local rural electric cooperatives that serve more than 830,000 farms, homes, and businesses in Missouri, southeast Iowa, and northeast Oklahoma. Combined, the three wind farms will be capable of producing 157 MW, equal to enough power for about 45,000 homes.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative (BEPC), headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota, ranked eighth in total sales of renewable energy with nearly 114 million kWh in 2005, according to the NREL’s annual ranking of leading utility green power programs. BEPC has added approximately 136 MW of wind energy to its portfolio over the past several years through joint projects and purchase agreements.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative of Bismarck, North Dakota, is leading a consortium of energy companies and research institutions in an innovative project to use electricity from local wind generators to produce hydrogen using an electrolyzer. The hydrogen can be stored and used as a transportation fuel, a fuel to provide firm (non-intermittent) power that can be scheduled from fuel cells or small generators, or other applications with zero emissions. The electrolyzer will be one of the nation’s first production sources of hydrogen from a renewable resource. The hydrogen created at the production site primarily will be used to refuel hydrogen-powered vehicles. For example, General Motors 2006 Flexfuel pick­ups have been converted to run on hydrogen fuel to demonstrate the new link between wind power and vehicle transportation.

BP Alternative Energy has acquired options through strategic alliances and company acquisitions to develop approximately 8,500 MW of wind power in the United States. BP aims to grow its wind business from its current base of 30 MW to more than 450 MW in 2008.

Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC), in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is expanding its Evergreen Renewable Energy Program and is on track to reach 10 percent renewable generation by 2015. DPC has 17 MW of wind generation and 22 MW of hydroelectric power and owns a 10.4-MW landfill gas-to-energy plant. In addition, DPC’s animal waste-to-energy program utilizes manure from dairy and swine farms within the DPC system to produce methane for conversion to electricity. Currently, 3 MW of “cow power” are online, and DPC has plans to bring as much as 25 MW of additional capacity online over five years.

The Edison Mission Group and its affiliates currently have nearly 650 MW of wind power projects in service or under construction. That number will increase to 1,000 MW by the end of 2007.

Exelon Generation, a subsidiary of Exelon, is the largest wholesale wind marketer east of the Mississippi. It has long-term power purchase agreements with four wind generation projects in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, providing a total wind capacity of 153 MW. In addition, ComEd, Exelon’s Illinois-based subsidiary, purchases the output from two wind energy projects in northern Illinois, totaling 105 MW. In 2005, Exelon’s subsidiary PECO contracted to purchase 2,582 MWh per year of wind power for three years, which ensures that wind power supplies 10 percent of the energy needs for the company’s Philadelphia headquarters.

FPL Energy is the largest developer of wind energy projects in the United States. Approximately 35 percent of wind-generated electricity in the country is generated at an FPL Energy facility. The company’s wind portfolio includes more than 3,200 MW of wind generation located at 45 sites in 16 states. In 2006, parent company FPL Group estimates that it will offset nearly five million tons of CO2 emissions as a result of wind-generated electricity.

Great River Energy (GRE) of Elk River, Minnesota, has been providing electricity from wind power since 1998. In 2005, it added an additional 100 MW to its existing portfolio, bringing the provision of renewable energy to five percent of its current generation mix. Under a recent contract, the portion of GRE’s electricity coming from renewables will increase to eight percent by the end of 2007.

Green Mountain Power and an environmental nonprofit, Clean Air–Cool Planet, joined forces to enable Green Mountain Power’s 87,000 customers to help build new renewable energy resources and reduce GHG emissions. For a $6 monthly contribution to Clean Air–Cool Planet, customers of the Colchester, Vermont-based energy services company can help to offset the CO2 emissions associated with their electricity use and home heating - an estimated six tons per residential household, based on Vermont average electricity consumption and New England average heating fuel use. Green Mountain Power took the lead by offsetting a year’s worth of CO2 emissions - 290 tons - from both powering and heating its corporate and operations facilities. The customer donations will help to finance the construction of new Midwest wind farms and to support efforts to build Vermont-based methane projects. Since the program began, hundreds of Green Mountain Power customers helped to fund the construction of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Turbine Project in South Dakota and the Knoxland Farm Methane Project in Bradford, Vermont. The wind turbine project is the first Native American-owned and operated large-scale wind turbine. The farm methane project will eliminate lagoon storage of manure, and capture and use methane gas. This will avoid direct emissions of methane gas and will displace fossil fuel use.

MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company has developed 360 MW of wind energy and is recognized as a world leader in developing renewable energy projects. MidAmerican received the 2005 Global Energy Award for the Renewables Project of the Year and the American Wind Energy Association’s 2005 Utility Leadership Award. In March 2003, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack challenged the state’s regulators, business leaders, and utilities to work toward achieving 1,000 MW of renewable energy generation in Iowa by 2010. Following Governor Vilsack’s appeal, MidAmerican announced plans to build a 310-MW wind facility. In September 2005, MidAmerican completed the project and added an additional 50 MW of electric generating capacity in mid-December. The 360.5-MW wind energy project is one of the largest land-based wind projects in the world. The project consists of 257 turbines located in northwest and north central Iowa, which provide enough capacity to serve approximately 100,000 homes. The Iowa wind project is just one of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company’s 14 renewable energy facilities worldwide that produce a total of approximately 1,500 MW of green power, representing about 17 percent of the generation portfolio.

NRG Energy, Inc. started “ecoNRG,” an ongoing environmental business effort targeted at achieving continuous environmental innovation and improvement. As part of this initiative, NRG recently acquired Padoma Wind Power, LLC, which has led the development, financing, construction, and operation of more than 40 wind farms in the United States and Europe, comprising more than 1,300 MW of installed capacity. Projects under active development include more than 500 MW of new wind generation in California, Texas, and New Mexico.

PPM Energy now owns or operates 1,405 MW of wind projects throughout the United States. The company already has another 857 MW currently ap­proved or under construction and has set a goal of having 3,500 MW of wind assets by 2010.

TVA in 2004 added a solar system at Bridges, a youth leadership training center in Memphis, and in 2005 TVA launched its 16th solar site at the Morgan County Vocational Technical School in Wartburg, Tennessee. The program was further enhanced with the addition of 15 wind turbines to the three original turbines at TVA’s Buffalo Mountain site in east Tennessee. Dedicated on Earth Day 2005, the new turbines increased the generating capacity of the site to 29 MW, making it a major source of power for the renewable program and the largest commercial wind installation in the Southeast. TVA has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Invenergy, the energy company that developed and built the new turbines. The 18 wind turbines at Buffalo Mountain can generate enough power to serve about 3,800 homes.

Waverly Light and Power in Iowa was the first municipal utility to own and operate wind generation in the Midwest. While it is continually searching for environmentally friendly, renewable energy resources, the utility has found wind to be an important resource leading the way in providing a clean, free, and inexhaustible energy resource. Waverly Light and Power’s wind generation serves the equivalent of 761 homes annually. It also offsets nearly 6,850 tons of CO2. Wind generation contributes more than five percent to the utility’s annual generation portfolio.

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, in Anadarko, Oklahoma, purchases 74.3 MW from the first phase of the Blue Canyon Wind Farm. The energy produced by Blue Canyon supplies approximately five percent of the co-op’s total energy needs to serve its 19 member-owned rural electric co-ops. In turn, these co-ops provide the energy to their member-owners that serve farms, rural residences, towns, and commercial and industrial customers across three-fourths of Oklahoma and small parts of Kansas and Texas.

Xcel Energy is the nation’s leading purchaser of wind power, with 1,048 MW of wind-generated electricity. Xcel has wind operations in Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas. Xcel also built Colorado’s first commercial wind farm, the Ponnequin Wind Farm in northern Colorado, and purchased the entire output of the state’s second wind farm.

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 References, Sources, and Other Useful Data

American Wind Energy Association

Since 1974, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has advocated the development of wind energy as a reliable, environmentally superior energy alternative in the United States and around the world.

American Wind Energy Association, "2008 - Another Record Year for New Installations"

The U.S. wind energy industry continued new installations at a breakneck pace in the third quarter of 2008, putting over 1,300 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity in place. That brings the total installed capacity to 21,017 MW in 35 states.

California Energy Commission, Consumer Energy Center, “Wind Power”

Presents information on wind farms, home systems, and a wind resource map.

Edison Electric Institute, “Harvesting the Wind” (part of the brochure on Power Partners: EEI Industry Initiatives)

In partnership with DOE, electric companies are supporting more advanced wind turbine technology in an effort to encourage widespread utilization of wind as a source of large-scale electricity production. This program seeks to make wind more attractive to electric power companies by taking steps to locate wind on the existing transmission grid, purchasing existing wind turbines, and exploring prospective projects in the mountains of the eastern U.S.

General Electric Company, “GE Ecomagination: Wind Turbines”

GE’s global installed base of over 11,600 1.5MW wind turbines has the capacity to produce approximately 52 million MWh of electricity annually, which would be equivalent to avoiding the emission of over 31 million metric tons of CO2 from traditional US grid sources or to the CO2 emissions of more than 6 million cars on U.S. roads per year. GE's website on wind turbines includes information on the benefits of wind energy and fact sheets on wind turbines, including their 1.5 MW, 2.5 MW, and 3.6 MW Series wind turbines.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, "Wind Powering America"

Wind Powering America is a commitment to dramatically increase the use of wind energy in the United States. This initiative will establish new sources of income for American farmers, Native Americans, and other rural landowners, and meet the growing demand for clean sources of electricity.

Utility Wind Integration Group, "Accelerating the Integration of Wind Generation into Utility Power Systems"

The Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG, and previously the Utility Wind Interest Group) was established in 1989 to provide a forum for the critical analysis of wind technology for utility applications and to serve as a source of credible information on the status of wind technology and deployment. The group holds technical wind forums and engages in other technical program activities through the coordinated efforts and actions of its members. UWIG’s mission is to accelerate the appropriate integration of wind power into the electric system through the coordinated efforts and actions of its members, in collaboration with wind industry stakeholders, including federal agencies, trade associations, and industry research organizations.  Membership is open to utilities and other entities that have an interest in wind generation. UWIG currently has over 100 members spanning the United States, Canada, and Europe, including investor-owned, public power, and rural electric cooperative utilities; transmission system operators; and associate member corporate, government, and academic organizations.

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Last revised: Dec. 11, 2009.