Grid Operators Across U.S. Report New Renewable Energy Records

April 19, 2022

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
April 19, 2022

New renewable energy records were recently set across the U.S., grid operators overseeing organized wholesale power markets in the U.S. said.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) set a new record on April 3, when 97.6 percent of electricity on the grid came from renewable energy.

The peak, which occurred briefly at 3:39 p.m., broke the previous record of 96.4 percent set on March 27, 2022. Before that, the grid’s record for renewable power was 94.5 percent, set on April 21, 2021.

The new milestone comes as CAISO integrates growing amounts of renewable energy onto the grid in support of the state’s clean energy goals.

The California grid also set a historical solar peak of 13,628 megawatts (MW) just after noon on April 8, and an all-time wind peak of 6,265 MW just before 3 p.m. on March 4.

Renewable peaks typically occur in the spring, due to mild temperatures and the sun angle allowing for an extended window of strong solar production.

CAISO analysis forecasts a potential for more renewable records in April.

The grid operator has collaborated extensively with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC) and a broad group of stakeholders on market and transmission improvements to integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy.

More than 15,000 MW of grid-connected solar power capacity and almost 8,000 MW of wind are now online.

With California committed to a carbon-free power system by 2045, more solar and wind are expected, along with dramatic growth in storage capacity on the system, CAISO noted.

Another 600 MW of solar and 200 MW of wind are projected to be added to the state’s grid by June 1 of this year. The system currently has more than 2,700 MW of storage, most of it in lithium-ion batteries, and that number is projected to grow to about 4,000 MW by June 1.

SPP

Meanwhile, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) set several renewable records on March 28 and 29, 2022.

At 2:42 a.m. Central time March 29, SPP set a new renewable energy penetration record of 90.2%, beating the previous record of 87.5% set May 8, 2021. This means SPP served 90.2% of the demand for electricity across its 14-state service territory with renewable energy sources and marks the first time a regional transmission organization served more than 90% of its load with renewables, SPP said.

Of total demand, 88.5% was served by wind, beating the previous wind penetration record of 84%, also set May 8, 2021.

SPP also set new wind and renewable production records.

At 9:25 p.m. Central time March 28, the SPP region produced a record 23,802 MW of renewable energy. The previous record of 21,820 MW was set Feb. 15, 2022. And at 10:34 p.m. the same evening, SPP set a wind production record of 22,915 MW, beating the previous record of 21,820 MW from Feb. 15.

SPP has more than 66 gigawatts of renewables in its generator interconnection queue.

“In a decade’s time, our region has gone from thinking of 25% renewable-penetration levels as nearly unreachable to a point where we regularly exceed 75% without reliability concerns,” SPP Senior Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said. “We’re able to manage wind generation more effectively than other, smaller systems can because we’ve got a huge pool of resources to draw from.”

SPP manages the electric grid and wholesale power market for the central United States. SPP and its group of member companies coordinate the flow of electricity across approximately 60,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines spanning 14 states.

NYISO

In late March, the New York ISO reported that the addition of about 750 MW of new behind-the-meter (BTM) solar facilities over the past year helped the state set a new record for BTM solar production.

The NYISO estimated that BTM solar production reached a record of 2,328 MW during the noon hour on Tuesday, March 22. The previous record of 2,034 MW was reached on April 23, 2021. The NYISO estimates the state’s total BTM solar capacity at just under 3,500 MW. 

When estimated BTM solar production peaked at 2,328 MW on March 22, total bulk power system load was 15,167 MW. Energy provided by BTM solar reduces the amount of load served by the bulk power system, NYISO noted. Without those BTM resources, total bulk power system load would have been about 17,495 MW. 

The NYISO estimates BTM production by sampling data from thousands of solar installations throughout the state. The NYISO’s solar forecasting system uses these samples to estimate the impacts of BTM solar at look-ahead periods from 15 minutes to seven days.  The solar forecasting system also uses high quality meteorological measurements from the University at Albany’s Mesonet, a weather network consisting of 126 weather stations, with at least 1 in all 62 counties in the state of New York.

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