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Wind Success Comes with Challenges

by Staff
BPA Journal, December 2008

Wind power in BPA's balancing area has grown from 25 megawatts 10 years ago to more than 1,500 MW today, and that number is expected to continue to rise rapidly. While the agency anticipated having 3,000 MW of wind on its grid in early 2020's, it now expects that amount to be on line by December 2009. This will be one of the highest, if not the highest, proportion of wind power serving load in any U.S. power system.

While the growth of the wind resource is a real success story, the speed and amount of wind power is overtaking the federal hydropower system's ability to provide sufficient integration services, which maintain the constant balance of generation and loads needed to maintain system reliability. Without this balance, the lights can go out. Variable wind power requires large amounts of blalancing services to back up times when the wind isn't blowing.

Today, BPA provides these balancing services from federal dams. But the hydro system's limits are being reached. When the amount of wind in BPA's balancing authority was small, systems designed to handle swings in loads also accommodated variations in wind output without difficulty. Now, with so much wind entering the system, swings in wind output are beginning to challenge the systems that were designd to handle only variations in loads, and BPA is working with the wind community and its customers to resolve these challenges.

To learn about the steps BPA is taking to integrate wind, read "Balancing act: BPA grid respods to huge influx of wind power"

If you'd like to keep up with BPA's wind integration efforts, bookmark the wind Web page.

Wind Success Comes with Challenges
BPA Journal, December 2008

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