By the end of 2013, there were more than 12,000 MW of new generating capacity under construction, more than ever in history. A record-breaking 10,900 MW of construction activity began during the fourth quarter.
Aside from leveraging our wind resources, there are a number of other reasons why America needs to invest in its power grid. A congested and obsolete power grid limits consumers’ access to lower-cost power. It is also inefficient and prone to blackouts. These factors alone cost American consumers tens of billions of dollars per year in elevated electric rates and lost productivity.
The U.S. Department of Energy has also identified transmission limitations as the largest obstacle to realizing the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits of obtaining 20% of our electricity from wind power. Wind power projects totaling 127,071 MW were in the interconnection queue at the end of 2012, waiting to connect to the electricity transmission system because there is not enough transmission capacity to carry the electricity they would produce.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory maintains a Transmission Grid Integration website that includes publications, data and resources, and FAQs.
During 2011, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act supported a groundbreaking study that identifies the challenges associated with increasing variable generation. The U.S. Department of Energy recently published a report, Strategies and Decision Support Systems for Integrating Variable Energy Resources in Control Centers for Reliable Grid Operations: Global Practices, Examples of Excellence and Lessons Learned (PDF 6.56 MB), that discusses the study's findings regarding wind energy grid integration. The report provides utilities with recommendations and examples of success stories aimed at informing the design of decision-support tools, solutions, and strategies for integrating more wind energy into power systems. An executive summary (PDF 439 KB) of the report is also available.