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Wind power grows wings

Wind power grows wings

Wind power will soon become a bigger part of the state’s energy picture.

Wind power will soon become a bigger part of the state’s energy picture.

In September, there were over 700 megawatts of wind generating capacity in commercial operation in New York. By next summer, wind capacity is expected to grow to more than 1,200 megawatts, while proposed projects would add another 6,500 megawatts of wind capacity by 2011.

The New York Independent System Operator is already preparing for the increase in wind power.

Last week the agency announced that it had implemented a centralized wind forecasting system that will enable the ISO to better predict how much wind will be generated at each wind farm in the state. The idea, according to Ken Klapp, a spokesman for the New York Independent System Operator, is to make wind a more reliable source of power, at a time when the state is becoming more dependent on it.

“Because of wind’s intermittent nature, something like this is critical,” Klapp said. “Take a wind farm that’s putting out 10 megawatts of energy. We can’t assume that’s going to be consistent. [The forecasting system] tells us what we can expect.” Unexpected ebbs in supply could cause reliability problems, he said.

In 2004, New York adopted a renewable portfolio standard mandating that 25 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2013. Currently, that figure is at about 19 percent.

The Albany-based Alliance for Clean Energy has been asking the New York Independent System Operator to implement a centralized forecasting system for several years, said Carol Murphy, executive director of the Albany-based Alliance for Clean Energy. “As more wind comes into the power grid, forecasting will make their lives easier, and allow them to get the maximum amount of wind into the system,” she said. “This will give the ISO a sense of how much wind is coming on.”

The centralized forecasting system will enable the New York State Independent System Operator to receive detailed wind power forecasts, based on meteorological data and the operating characteristics of every wind farm in the state.

This information will be fed directly into the ISO operational systems.

The New York Independent System has contracted with AWS Truewind in Colonie to run the centralized forecasting system. The company will receive data from the state’s wind farms, each of which has hundreds of generators, every five minutes.

An earlier study by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority found that the state could accommodate 3,300 megawatts of wind power without making any adjustments to the power grid.

One issue, Klapp said, is that wind farms are located in remote areas, such as the Tug Hill Plateau in Lowville, on the western edge of the Adirondacks, that have never had the same infrastructure needs as more densely populated areas. As a consequence, the power grid in many of these areas will need to be modified in order to handle the greater volume of energy generated in these places.

Klapp said the NYSERDA study is being redone to provide more information about what sorts of enhancements will be necessary.

Right now, New York ranks ninth out of the 50 states for existing wind power capacity.

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