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Western Wind and Solar Integration Study released

[1]By Julia Pettit
Stoel Rives LLP, Attorneys at Law [2]

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (“NREL”) recently announced the release of the “Western Wind and Solar Integration Study” [3] (the “WWSIS”), which investigated the operational impact of up to 35% energy penetration of wind, photovoltaic, and concentrating solar power on the power system operated by the WestConnect group of utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming.  The WestConnect group includes the following:  Arizona Public Service, El Paso Electric Co., NV Energy, Public Service of New Mexico, Salt River Project, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Tucson Electric Power, Western Area Power Administration, and Xcel Energy.

The WWSIS was prepared by GE Energy and conducted over two and a half years by a team or researchers in wind power, solar power, and utility operations.   The WWSIS was designed to answer questions that utilities, Public Utility Commissions, developers, and regional planning organizations had about renewable energy use in the West, such as:

Based on the technical analysis performed in the WWSIS, it was determined that it is operationally feasible for WestConnect to accommodate 30% wind and 5% solar energy penetration, assuming that certain changes to current practice are made over time.  A summary of some of the changes items identified in the WWSIS were outlined in the Executive Summary [4] and include the following:

Finally, the WWIS also identified a number of areas where further study is warranted: