Energy Policy and Texas
State regulators welcomed wind farms into Texas' unfettered wholesale power market through a special process to designate the best wind-power production zones and to accelerate construction of power lines -- costing from $3 billion to $6 billion -- needed to link those remote areas to more populated areas of the state.
However, problems that surfaced in the Texas wholesale market as wind's influence reached a critical level this spring should be a warning for the rest of the nation, said Lawrence Makovich, vice president and senior power adviser at Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
"Wind is not a direct substitute for conventional power supply," said Makovich. ...Wind is attractive if added in moderation, Makovich said.
"It has a desirable environmental profile, but you want to incorporate a smart amount of wind," he said. "If you add too much, you may impose too much additional cost."
"Federal incentives for renewable energy, I believe, have distorted the competitive wholesale market" on the Texas grid, Nelson told the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Nelson said she believes those distortions are "one of the primary causes" of the current strains on the grid, and added: "I think we all need to move with extreme caution before adopting any additional incentives or mandates."
When it comes to the biggest decision facing CPS - how to meet the energy shortage looming in the next decade or so - utility officials are adamant that renewable resources like solar and wind are not yet ready to shoulder the lion's share of the load.
The proposed solution instead is to add two nuclear reactors to the South Texas Project. Utility officials insist the proposed $5.2 billion investment is cheaper and more reliable than solar or wind.
The situation has the local anti-nuclear coalition Energia Mia and statewide renewable energy proponents outraged.
Texas should meet its growing electricity demand by encouraging more power plants fueled by coal and nuclear power, maximizing use of the state's vast wind resources and reducing dependence on expensive natural gas, according to recommendations by a task force appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.
The report was issued Thursday by the Competitiveness Council, consisting of more than two dozen business, consumer and government representatives. It made 36 energy-related recommendations aimed at achieving "long-term sustained economic success." A public hearing on its conclusions is scheduled for Monday in Austin.