Rise of Wind Alters Traditional View of Baseload Energy

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 11.58.52 AMGreat River Energy president and CEO, David Saggau, said something remarkable recently during a presentation to the 2017 Energy Policy Forum.

“In the past, we tended to think of our coal resources as baseload and every other resource being supplemental to that. That’s been turned on its head now. I would suggest to you that wind is quickly becoming the new baseload. To be viable going forward, all other sources must be flexible enough to be supplemental to the wind.”

Wind power as baseload – imagine that. But, to Saggau, it makes perfect sense.

“We have a tremendous amount of wind. . . . We’ve gotten very good at predicting when the wind is going to blow. . . . The transmission system is able to handle the intermittency of all of this wind. It has no emissions. It has no variable cost. It’s relatively inexpensive. What’s not to like?”

In an associated interview, Saggau buttressed his argument for wind as a baseload resource pointing out that, with the help of recent advances in predicting weather patterns, his utility’s wind resources have achieved nearly the same capacity factor as combined cycle natural gas plants.

This from the CEO of Minnesota’s second largest electric utility that serves 1.7 million customers and that still generates the majority of its energy from coal supplemented by natural gas peaker plants.

It was all preface to Saggau’s announcement that Great River Energy is investing in a new wind farm that will generate 300 megawatts of power bringing his utility’s wind capacity to more than 1,000 megawatts.

More about Greeat River Energy’s renewables-based strategy can be found in a blog post titled “Wind drives new grid paradigm”. You can also view David Saggau: