Wind Energy Transmission Economics Assessment

Wind Energy Transmission Economics Assessment

Location: Northern United States

Client: WPPI Energy

Completion Date: 2010

Burns & McDonnell was retained by WPPI Energy to perform a Wind Energy Transmission Economics Assessment. The purpose of the study was to assist WPPI with the development of an economic model to assess the viability of transporting wind energy from wind-rich areas in the northern United States to eastern load centers.

The project included a characterization of regional capacity factors from wind resources throughout 17 different states; development of a unique economic model to evaluate the relative financial viability of development wind resources in assorted areas of the country; and evaluation of electric transmission capital cost investments required to move wind energy between 60 source/sink project site combinations.

The study ultimately provided an indication of whether it is more economically viable to develop wind projects in wind-rich areas and construct the necessary electric transmission infrastructure to transfer energy from those peojcts to load centers or develop wind projects near the load centers despite an inferior wind resource in those locations.

  • Wind resource and energy assessements
  • Economic modeling
  • Electric transmission breakeven analysis

WPPI Energy is a regional power company serving 51 consumer-owned electric utilities throughout Wisconsin, upper Michigan and Iowa. Burns & McDonnell was retained to provide professional consulting services in the comprehensive development and evaluation of transporting wind energy from wind-rich areas in the northern United States to eastern load centers.

The economic model produced by Burns & McDonnell enables its user to derive the breakeven amount that can be economically spent on transmission improvements required to move wind energy from one area to another. This breakeven amount, expressed in dollars per kilowatt of incremental power transfer capability, is calculated as the difference in levelized busbar generation cost between a wind farm with a high capacity factor and a similar wind farm in a location with a low capacity factor. The user of the economic model may subsequently assess the economic feasibility of developing remote wind generation by comparing the breakeven cost with their projected cost of providing incremental power transfer capability between the two areas.

Access the study in its entirety through the WPPI website.

  • Up to 1,000 MW of renewable wind capacity
  • Analysis of 60 potential source/off-take locations