Wind generation sets records, saves consumers money as extreme cold grips nation

Wind saved Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic consumers $1 billion during last year’s polar vortex event according to analysis released today

January 7, 2015

Washington, D.C., Jan. 7 — As extreme cold grips large chunks of the country this week, wind energy set record-high outputs, once again saving U.S. consumers money. Wind energy also saved consumers $1 billion in just two days when similar extreme cold hit the U.S. exactly one year ago, according to new data released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“This new data adds to the mountain of evidence showing why homegrown wind energy is one of this country’s most affordable and reliable sources of electricity,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “We must not forget that wind energy can save consumers money.”

“With extreme cold now moving through much of the Midwest and Eastern U.S., wind energy is once again helping to keep the lights on and protecting consumers against costly energy price spikes,” said Michael Goggin, Director of Research for AWEA, during a webinar this afternoon discussing the new analysis.

The newly released report found that during just two days, Jan. 6 and 7, 2014, savings from using fixed-price wind energy added up to $1 billion or $15 per person on the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes power grid (PJM).

Wind energy did this by protecting against spikes in the price of other fuels, and keeping power prices low during periods of high demand. While other power plants failed in last January’s extreme cold or faced skyrocketing prices for fuel, wind energy continued producing electricity as expected with zero fuel cost.

Wind energy always provides these benefits by making our energy portfolio more diverse, but the benefits can become particularly pronounced when the electric grid is stressed – like this week.

In the last 24 hours wind set a new output record for the MidContinent ISO (MISO) and for the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), an area that covers much of the Midwest. Wind also performed at near-record levels in the PJM market (PJM).

  • At about 11 p.m. EST last night, wind set a record output of 11,725 MW of wind generation or enough power for over 9 million average U.S. homes for the MISO region. The MISO area covers all or part of, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri and Montana.
  • At about 6:15 a.m. EST this morning, wind set a record output of 7,625 MW of wind generation or enough power for over 6 million average U.S. homes for the SPP region. The SPP area covers all or part of, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Thanks to relative policy stability, technology innovation leading to more productive wind turbines has allowed the U.S. wind energy industry to lower costs by more than half in the last five years, with those savings passed on to consumers.

American wind farms now provide enough power for more than 18 million American homes. Iowa and South Dakota produce more than 25 percent of their electricity from wind and nine states rely on wind for more than 12 percent.

Wind energy produced more than four percent of the nation’s electricity in 2013, and is on track to double by 2020 and double again by 2030 according to the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision, an update of which will be released this spring.

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AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. We represent 1,000 member companies and over 100,000 jobs in the U.S. economy, serving as a powerful voice for how wind works for America. Members include global leaders in wind power and energy development, turbine manufacturing, and component and service suppliers. They gather each year at the Western Hemisphere’s largest wind power trade show, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, next in Chicago, Illinois, May 7-10, 2018. Find information about wind energy on the AWEA website. Gain insight into industry issues on AWEA's blog, Into the Wind. And please join us on Facebook, and follow @AWEA on Twitter.