For the first time, wind on the Plains supplied more than half region’s power

Wind turbines across the Great Plains states produced, for the first time, more than half the region’s electricity Sunday.

The power grid that supplies a corridor stretching from Montana to the Texas Panhandle was getting 52.1 percent of its power from wind at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, Little Rock, Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool Inc. said in a statement Monday.

As more and more turbines are installed across the country, Southwest Power has become the first North American grid operator to get a majority of its supply from wind. That beats the grid’s prior record of 49.2 percent and the 48 percent that a Texas grid operator reached in March, Derek Wingfield, a spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“Ten years ago we thought hitting even a 25 percent wind-penetration level would be extremely challenging, and any more than that would pose serious threats to reliability,” Bruce Row, Southwest Power Pool’s vice president of operations, said in the statement. “Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 percent. It’s not even our ceiling.”

The power pool operates 60,000 miles of power grid across 14 states. Texas leads the U.S. wind industry with more than 20 gigawatts installed, followed by Iowa, Oklahoma, California and Kansas, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

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