On January 19, 2010 the SPP WITF Wind Integration Study, conducted by Charles River Associates (CRA) on behalf of the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (SPP) Wind Integration Task Force (WITF), found that enhanced electricity reserves and major transmission reinforcements are needed to integrate higher levels of wind generation into the SPP transmission system and energy markets. If the needed transmission upgrades were completed, there would be no significant technical barriers or reliability impacts to integrating wind energy levels up to 20%. Currently, approximately 4% of the region’s electricity is generated by wind. According to SPP Vice President of Engineering Bruce Rew, “The study reinforced the criticality of coordinating transmission expansion plans with plans for building infrastructure to generate wind energy. Recommendations made in the study will allow SPP to prepare for continued growth in our region’s renewable wind resources.”

The study examined three wind penetration levels and compared each to current system conditions. Detailed analysis was completed on 10% and 20% wind levels by annual energy; limited analysis was completed on a 40% case. SPP wind generation resources are primarily located in the western part of the region, typically in sparsely-populated locations with little transmission and electricity demand. The study found that an increase in the wind penetration level causes changes in power flow patterns – particularly increased flow from the western to the eastern part of the region – requiring upgrades and/or reconfigurations to the transmission system. To accommodate the increased west-to-east flows while meeting SPP’s electric reliability standards: For the 10% case, new transmission lines totaling 1,260 miles of 345 kV and 40 miles of 230 kV lines are needed. For the 20% case, an additional 485 miles of 765 kV, 766 miles of 345 kV, 205 miles of 230 kV, and 25 miles of 115 kV lines are needed. Read SPP Study