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The Winds of Change: SPP Tops the 50% Wind Penetration

On February 13, 2017, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) became the first regional transmission organization (RTO) in North America to serve more than half of its load from wind energy.

Key Details

  • According SPP, wind generation was at 11,419 MW when the record was set, which is near the upper bounds of RTOs’ operational comfort levels
  • The event follows similar achievements in wind output in December 2016 by ERCOT (16,000 MW), MISO (13,599 MW), PJM (6,249 MW), and NE-ISO (871 MW)
  • SPP and other RTOs continue to study even higher levels of renewable, variable generation as part of their plans to maintain a reliable and economic grid of the future
  • The installation of wind has continued to grow through subsidies, decreases in asset prices, and increases in transmission access


Increases to the installed capacity of wind and other renewable generation assets are changing the way that grid operators manage the grid. This increase in wind generation is compelling RTOs, particularly SPP, MISO, and ERCOT, to prepare to operate the grid with exceedingly high wind-penetration scenarios. Grid operators will continue to come up the learning curve as they manage greater penetrations of variable generation resources.

Additional Resources

Arkansas Business: Southwest Power Pool Sets Wind Energy Record

RTO Insider: SPP First RTO to 50% Wind Energy Penetration Level

AWEA: New record: plain states exceed 50 percent wind power

This report is part of the Clean Tech & Sustainability Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.

Additional Contributing Author: Michael Morley

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Contributing Authors

Paul Quinlan Clean Tech Manager

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