At noon on Dec. 22, you can see wind power generation bottoming out across 14 states. Southwest Power Pool

 

 

By 2027 SaskPower will be expanding its interconnect to the Southwest Power Pool from 150 megawatts to 650 megawatts, at a cost of about a billion dollars. The stated goal is to allow SaskPower to buy and sell power, particularly renewable wind and solar, with the United States.

Premier Scott Moe referenced this in his year-end interview with Pipeline Online on Dec. 18. He noted, “The transmission line is going to act as our battery, all of our transmission lines, but in particular, the one we’re building where we’ll be able to flex up and flex down with some of the renewables that we will incorporate to drive that cost point down.”

https://pipelineonline.ca/scott-moe-year-end-2023-part-3/ – go to time reference 4:06.

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) runs from the Canada/US border at North Dakota south to the Texas Panhandle, incorporating all or parts of 14 states across the Great Plains.

On many days, wind power generation is prolific across the SPP. And indeed, forecasts on Dec. 22 suggested that just as Santa is flying overhead on Christmas Eve, nearly the entire power load of the SPP might be powered by wind. (As of noon on Ded. 22, the forecast for midnight Dec. 24/25 was 26,289 megawatts of wind expected to be supplied while demand would be 27,226 megawatts of demand.)

At noon on Dec. 22, (the time of writing) the forecast for wind power generation across 14 states was expected to meet nearly all of the SPP’s demand. . Southwest Power Pool

 

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And there are days when wind power simply plummets. And mid-day on Dec. 22 was one of those days.

And on those days, natural gas and solar keep the lights on.

At 11:50 a.m. on Dec. 22, wind had fallen to 5.6 per cent of the SPP’s power generation. Natural gas was 49.3 per cent, followed by coal at 34.1 per cent. Nuclear beat out wind, making up 7 per cent, while hydro was 3.3 per cent. So fossil fuels at that moment were producing 83.4 per cent of the power generated from the SPP.

That aqua sliver was the fraction of wind-power generation across the Southwest Power Pool at noon on Dec. 22. Orange was natural gas, and light blue was coal. Southwest Power Pool

That also meant that of any electrons coming across the border at that time, if SaskPower was buying any power from SPP, 83.4 per cent of that power would have been coming from coal and natural gas, and would not have had a carbon tax applied to it. That’s a huge difference from Saskatchewan, where the federal carbon tax applies to coal and natural gas power generation. And as Alberta’s last coal-fired power station converts to natural gas by summer of 2024, it means the only coal-fired power being used in Saskatchewan will be that we produce ourselves, and that which comes across the line (carbon-tax free) from the Southwest Power Pool.

As if to reinforce the variability of power output of wind, 12 hours later, wind was producing 56.3 per cent of the power in the SPP, a total of 15,935 megawatts.

 

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