Wind turbines are being reduced to a third of their capacity by some grid system operators in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, across Texas, and parts of the Midwest. These grid operators are concerned that intermittent energy surges will overload the system.
These curtailments, as they are called, are taking place because of the strong bursts of energy they produce for a system that isn’t designed to deal with the amount of energy and fluctuations.
In fact, over the past few months in New England, the grid system operator has cut back power from hydroelectric plants and wind farms multiple times, citing the production of too much electricity.
Experts say part of the problem is that these facilities are often located in areas that have little to no population or are along mountain ranges that have no need for transmission lines with no robust carrying capacity.
If a surge is too big, the wires can overload and the drop in voltage might spur blackouts throughout a specific region or extend to other parts of the US.
Wind power proponents argue that they are being restricted unnecessarily and it’s hurting the perception of wind power and the renewable energy industry in general. The industry isn’t being allowed to achieve its full potential.
The CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, co-owner of Kingdom Community Wind, estimates that the curtailments cost the wind farm over $1.5 million dollars during the winter of 2012 alone.