A new rule requiring energy producers to notify the Department of Defense before connecting to the Texas power grid is now in effect.
The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, the nonprofit organization operating the state's power grid, amended its planning guides this year due to concerns that wind farms are encroaching on land near military bases. The amendment went into effect Tuesday.
In August, an ERCOT official proposed the rule change to the Texas House of Representatives Defense and Veterans Affairs committee in Wichita Falls, where Sheppard Air Force Base has become embroiled in a conflict with a local wind energy developer.
Sheppard officials have asserted that proposed wind developments in nearby Clay County would interfere with its radar operation and flight training missions. If erected, wind turbines in a 25-mile radius of the base could cause Sheppard's mission to be moved to another military installation, a move that likely would be a crippling blow to the Wichita Falls economy.
The Clay County projects currently are being reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Horn Wind LLC, the projects' developer, previously has said that the concern about encroachment is overblown.
The ERCOT rule change was made at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott, a top organization official told the House committee in August. The amendment requires energy producers to provide ERCOT with an affidavit showing they have notified the DoD of their plans before ERCOT can complete a required "screening study."
Wind energy currently accounts for about 10 percent of the power generated in Texas. Wind is the fourth largest contributor to the state's energy grid, ranking behind natural gas, coal and nuclear power.