Energy Policy and Texas
Meanwhile, lawmakers are trying to pass House Bill 1273 and the bill says that money given by wind energy farms to wealthy districts need to be part of "Robin Hood." "Robin Hood" will then distribute the money through out other districts.
Now some school districts in the Big Country can be heavily affected if House Bill 1273 passes.
In a bid to block two large wind energy projects on the South Texas coast, an alliance of environmental groups and landowners is taking aim at the high-voltage transmission line required for the project.
The wind farms represent a $1 billion investment in a remote corner of the Kenedy Ranch.
Texas cares little for environmental niceties. Its governor, Rick Perry, bashes the Environmental Protection Agency at every opportunity, and recently branded the climate bill that passed the House of Representatives a "legislative monstrosity."
Yet the oil-and-gas state has nonetheless emerged as the nation's top producer of a commodity prized by environmentalists: wind power. Eager developers are covering its desolate western mesas with giant turbines. The world's largest wind farm began operations in Texas this month, and the state now has close to three times as much wind capacity as Iowa, the second-ranked state.
HOUSTON – Texas, as everyone knows, does everything big. Its giant oil and gas fields dominate America's energy patch. It is now the nation's largest wind producer, with more than 2,000 turbines gathering some of the country's strongest currents. It gets the booby prize for being the biggest producer of greenhouse gases.
And now Texas faces a big hole in its electricity production, since the country's second-most-populous state also happens to be one of the fastest growing because of immigration and the rise in riches from the recent increase in oil and gas prices.
That hole just got bigger as the TXU Corp., the state's largest utility, scrapped eight new coal-fired plants under a deal it has agreed to with potential new owners. The deal has delighted many environmentalists, but it has also stoked one Texas-size problem.
Unless new generation is built quickly from some source, Texas energy production in 2009 will fall below reserves recommended by the state operator of the power transmission grid for guaranteeing smooth operations during peak periods of high heat.
Perhaps the biggest mistake Texas power players are making during the current financial crisis is not implementing a capacity market to spur investment in new baseload projects, a group of panelists told a Gulf Coast Power Association conference Thursday in Houston.
A substantial growth in wind generation in Texas has left a need for new baseload generation.
WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Multiple reports and studies, especially those published in the last year, suggest the United States, specifically the East Coast, has great potential for offshore wind.
The politicized debate over whether to develop wind power offshore has dragged on since the late 1990s, when the first project was proposed in Cape Cod, Mass., off the Nantucket Sound. Since then there have been several other proposals, none of which has been completely approved.
Howard County commissioners approved a trio of reinvestment zones necessary to grant tax abatements Monday morning, moving forward with negotiations with several wind energy developers that could lead to an estimated 400 to 500 new turbines being erected in the county.
Commissioners met with Terry Wegman, executive director for Moore Development, who is serving as a liaison between the wind energy developers and local taxing entities for the purpose of establishing reinvestment zones, and ultimately, negotiating tax abatements for several proposed projects.
The court approved reinvestment zones A, B and C, following a public hearing that drew comments from only a single property owner. ..."Even the smaller developments - the smallest one is 36 megawatts - will be putting up quite a few turbines. I think we're looking at between 400 and 500 turbines at this point, but that's nothing more than a rough estimate."
Kerr County commissioners have sent a message to Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation officials regarding possible routes for transmission lines in the area.
"Go to another county," said Pct. 1 Commissioner Buster Baldwin during Monday's commission meeting.
County commissioners also asked for the transmission lines to follow existing rights-of-way.
To satisfy San Antonio's demand for power with two plants out on hotter-than-normal June days, CPS had to buy power - very expensive power - from the operator of the Texas grid. Customers saw those higher prices reflected in their bills this summer.
It's a scenario CPS doesn't want to repeat. The city-owned utility wants to have power available that can satisfy the city's demands for electricity, with a safety cushion above that.
When investor Boone Pickens put a hold on a huge wind power project in the Texas Panhandle that he had announced in the spring, he wasn't alone.
A number of wind power developers and researchers say the ongoing credit crisis, together with transmission congestion in West Texas and falling natural gas prices, will slow the state's breakneck expansion of wind capacity. ...But there also is a peculiar wrinkle in wind power's finance that makes the current environment doubly challenging.
"Most wind projects in the U.S. are funded by investors with an appetite for tax benefits," said David Groberg, vice president of Invenergy Wind, a Chicago-based company with 690 megawatts of wind capacity in Texas.
Texas is requiring utilities to generate 5,880 megawatts of electric power from renewable sources by 2015 and 10,000 megawatts by 2025. No problem there. Wind power entrepreneurs have created a new energy boom in West Texas. There's already more wind electricity available than the limited transmission system in the region can handle. And hundreds of private companies have proposed new electric highways. They are waiting for the Public Utility Commission of Texas to determine who will get the cost-plus contracts and where the lines will be constructed.
Wood, who now is in the business of developing clean power generation and independent transmission, believes the state needs a balanced approach to power generation.
"We need wind but we also need coal -- cleaned up as much as you can," Wood suggested, in addition to natural gas, which currently fuels more than half ERCOT's power.
Released Tuesday, the 443-page Energy Report 2008 shows state and local subsidies of $1.4 billion on energy produced in Texas, plus a similar amount of federal subsidies for Texas energy. ...[Texas Comptroller Susan] Combs said Tuesday that subsidies can have unintended consequences -- especially when policymakers favor "winners" by providing greater subsidies for one fuel source over another.
"Such assistance must be applied carefully," the report says. "Public policies that attempt to pick winners in the race for new energy technologies are an inefficient way to achieve policy goals and run the risk not only of wasting taxpayer money but also of directing private investment away from more promising use."
The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it will seize authority from Texas to regulate major emitters of greenhouse gases because Gov. Rick Perry and state regulators refused to implement the rules.
The move caps a long dispute between Texas and the EPA, which have clashed over the Obama administration's push to regulate industrial sources of carbon dioxide emissions.
The PUC estimates the state will need an additional 75,000 megawatts in the next 18 years as older, less-efficient plants are retired.
Statewide, some 20-25 gas-powered plants are being planned, along with three coal plants, and two or three nuclear plants. Wind farms are being added, but they still only provide about 5 percent of the state's electrical needs.
Even if it were all the proposed plants were to come onto the grid, Texas might still be paying more for electricity than other states, according to Terry Hadley, spokesman for the Public Utility Commission.
"What sticks out is the fuel cost," he said. "Most plants in Texas use natural gas, and the price of natural gas is just soaring."
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. added 535 MW of new gas-fired capacity in March, while generation interconnection requests for wind and coal projects surged ...As of March 31, ERCOT is now tracking 51,897 MW of generation interconnection requests for wind capacity, a 2,141-MW increase from 49,756 MW as of Feb. 28. Generation requests for coal projects jumped to 9,731 from 8,126 MW, while gas requests rose to 27,488 from 27,187 MW in February.
Houston-based Reliant has sparked a debate over subsidies that has the EPA, citizens and consumer advocates concerned
If Texas' wealth over the last century came from oil, wind farm developers are banking that a chunk of the state's future prosperity will come from an above-ground resource. ..."With wind law and the wind industry, what's happening legally is about the same place the oil industry was 100 years ago," said Ernest Smith, a University of Texas law professor who will teach a course in wind law this semester. "It's virtually unregulated. People realize there's great value to it, but there's no precedents in case law and very little statutory help."
But as windmills go in the ground, will regulation catch up?
Controversies over wind farms, especially those along the coast, have headed to the courthouse.
The Texas General Land Office is offering four tracts off the state's coast in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to bidders for the Oct. 2 lease sale. ...
The General Land Office explained, "These tracts may be subject to existing oil and gas leases and other encumbrances. The windpower lessee must coordinate with other lessees and permitees to ensure that rights granted under such leases and permits are not unreasonably affected."
Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) filed legislation on Monday to authorize the Gillespie County Commissioners Court to regulate the construction of wind energy electric generating facilities in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Senate Bill 1226 specifically will allow Gillespie County to prohibit or restrict the location of a facility in all or part of the county.