A groundbreaking study conducted under the direction of the Minnesota State Legislature reveals that the state’s utilities can incorporate up to 25 percent of their portfolios as wind power without compromising costs.

The state legislature approved a bill in 2005 requiring the Midwest Wind Integration Study to evaluate reliability and other impacts of higher levels of wind generation. The study found that the total cost to utilities for integrating up to 25 percent of their portfolios would be less than one-half of a cent ($.0045) per kWh of wind generation.

The 25 percent penetration level is roughly equivalent to that provided in the United States now by nuclear power (20 percent) or natural gas and hydropower combined (25 percent).

Whether the findings will translate into measurable change remains to be seen, but at least one advocate for wind power felt the results were obvious. Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG) Executive Director J. Charles Smith said, “The conclusion is clear: Under good system conditions such as those in the [Midwest Independent System Operator] service territory, wind energy can be readily integrated into the utility system.”     EC