How much electricity can wind power provide in a utility system? It is a question for which the answer is changing with improving technology.
From 4 to 5 in the morning of October 6th, wind provided 55.6% of the electricity consumed by the 1 million customers of the Xcel utility in Colorado, according to the Denver Post. www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19342896. The 55.6% mark establishes a new world record, surpassing a 53% wind power level set in Spain during 2009. Higher wind penetrations are made possible by both better wind technology and natural gas plants that support grid operations--a true marriage of gas and renewables.
The Denver Post also reports that Xcel that operates in 8 states is adding another 200 megawatts of wind energy to its 3,400 megawatts, making Xcel the nation's top wind producing company.
Proving again that the price of wind power is falling to incredibly competitive price points, Xcel will buy the latest 200 megawatts of wind at $27.50 per megawatt-hour (2.75 cents per kilowatt-hour) from NextEra Energy. No gas or coal plant could compete with that price which is the lowest price for wind Xcel has ever paid.
The average price for wind that Xcel has paid since 2007 is $42.16 per megawatt-hour, a bargain price itself. We all have friends who have drank the Kool Aid of bashing green energy. Perhaps these price points just might make some of them to start thinking once more.