Energy Policy and 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.