Atlanta, Georgia [RenewableEnergyAcccess.com] To ensure grid reliability and accommodate emerging markets for renewable generation, both wind and solar energy, the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program is funding a project to study the impact that higher levels of intermittent renewable power generation, such as wind energy, will have on the state’s power grid.GE Energy has signed a contract with the University of California to conduct the study. California currently leads the U.S. in the development of wind power. While the state had 2,150 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity at the end of 2005, according to the American Wind Energy Association, this study is considered essential in any given state before any further renewable generation facilities can be built. The project, which will span 16 months, is based on a similar study GE performed in 2004 and 2005 of the New York State power grid to assess how intermittent renewable (specifically wind) generation, at varying capacities and locations, would impact system reliability, transmission planning and operations, and power market administration in the state. Since that study was released, it has become the precedent for renewable power planning throughout the U.S., referred to by industry experts as “the most comprehensive wind integration assessment conducted to date in the United States,” claims the release. “The unique impacts of wind energy need to be fully understood to protect and manage a given state’s power system,” said Richard Piwko, project manager of GE Energy. “For example, grid operators need to schedule the amount of electricity delivered at a given time to match the grid’s load. The supply of wind energy is difficult to schedule accurately due to wind’s fluctuating nature.” How power plants and power grid operators can compensate for those fluctuations is one of the factors GE has been commissioned to evaluate. Upon its completion, the study will provide recommendations on operational, financial, market, and policy considerations for integrating renewable energy into the California grid.