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Wind Power Blows by Other Resources

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.

©2019 All Rights Reserved. Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP


About this Author

Mark Davidson, public utilities, energy, attorney, Lewis Roca Rothergerber
Special Counsel

Mr. Davidson's approach to practicing in public utilities law has been ‎developed by having represented all facets of utility regulation ‎including utilities, their customers, and the agency that regulates ‎them. He has practiced before regulatory agencies in Colorado, ‎Louisiana, Washington and Wyoming. As the country moves toward ‎more renewable energy alternatives, his representation of solar and ‎wind energy service providers will be at the forefront of our energy ‎economy both in Colorado and across the nation.‎