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Wind Power Blows by Other Resources
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

At the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Winter Meeting this week, it was announced that the addition of wind resources surpassed both solar and natural gas in 2015. Wind resources accounted for 8.6 gigawatts of capacity while solar and natural gas came in at 7.3 gigawatts and 6.0 gigawatts, respectively.

The data provided by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) showed that the extension of the Production Tax Credits, coupled with reduced costs of construction and operation of wind generation, led to wind being the lowest-cost source of new generation, according to AWEA’s CEO Tom Kiernan.

While the U.S. Supreme Court’s temporary stay of the implementation of the Clean Power Plan clouds the timing of future conventional resource emission reductions, utilities for the most part are moving ahead with renewable resource implementation plans. Xcel Energy has announced plans to spend $6 billion on new wind and solar development in order to not only meet emissions reductions mandates, but to also take advantage of technological advances in the production and delivery of energy.

Interestingly, the retirement of coal fired generation and the replacement of its capacity with renewables has not significantly impacted retail prices, according to the recently released Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy and Finance (BNEF) 2016 Factbook.

The continued success of increasing wind resources remains tied to access to adequate transmission infrastructure. While utilities continue to contract for new renewable resources, it bears watching whether transmission infrastructure investment is sufficient to keep up with the demand for new renewable resource capacity.

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