Library filed under Energy Policy from Texas
In a memo to the commission Thursday, Nelson said the federal tax credit for wind power was distorting the power market. She said that could potentially push base-load generation like coal and nuclear off the grid. And she ordered an examination of the costs to maintain and upgrade the power grid for wind farms and other renewable sources.
Texas PUC chairwoman, Donna Nelson, has initiated an investigation into "the costs of [transmission] system upgrades, the costs to maintain and operate the current system, and the allocation of those costs specifically related to renewable resources." In her memo below (and attached). Chairwoman Nelson warns of the costs, particularly of the wind PTC is extended by Congress.
Sometimes with long transmission lines that are lightly loaded, such as CREZ, it can be hard to control voltage," he says. "Wind energy needs a source to stabilize it and make it stay in sync." Also, as more CREZ-related projects attempt to tie in with the grid, abnormally hot or cold spring and fall temperatures - leading to unexpected high power demand on the system - could cause delays.
Texas has more wind power than any state and added the most last year, just ahead of California. The problem is that renewable sources are less consistent and reliable than fossil fuels. In Texas, the squeeze comes during heat waves, when demand surges and the air gets still. In California, the challenge is to keep a stable output on the grid and avoid rolling blackouts.
As the session progresses, renewable energy advocates are bracing to defend critical policies that have helped Texas become the leading wind-power state. The ascendancy of the Tea Party, an abundance of cheap natural gas and tighter budgets have reduced the sway of the wind industry. Solar power advocates anticipate limited gains at best.
"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."
"Wind power is an open trough of government subsidies, tax credits and state mandates. Taken together, it's a massive corporate welfare effort that means big money for the wind power developers and big costs for the rest of us." Loren Steffy, the Houston Chronicle. ...competitively priced goods or services cease to be the primary concern of the producer. Courting government agencies and influencing laws becomes the chief goal.
Hospitals are supposed to be exempt from the blackouts which hit yesterday, with power company Oncor attributing the outages to a "mistake," but there were no such mistakes when it came to supplying power to Cowboys Stadium. The government has ensured that the blackouts will not affect Super Bowl venues, a decision that has left residents furious.
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.
Opposition to the construction of high-voltage transmission lines in Texas could result in a smaller-scale project than originally envisioned by state officials, State Sen. Kirk Watson told a crowd of local workforce leaders Wednesday at a conference on renewable energy and state politics. "Elected officials and regulators are working at scaling back and actually scrapping portions of the CREZ lines."
Many jurisdictions worldwide are greatly increasing the amount of wind production, with the expectation that increasing renewables will cost-effectively reduce greenhouse emissions. This paper discusses the interaction of increasing wind, transmission constraints, renewable credits, wind and demand correlation, intermittency, carbon prices, and electricity market prices using the particular example of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market. The complete paper can be accessed at the links provided below.
The state is giving wind farm developers a few more days to show their financial commitment to building in the Panhandle. ...Without sufficient collateral, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas will have to conduct a study to determine if work should continue.
Landowners across the Hill Country are learning that their pristine private property is now going to be condemned for a 260-foot right-of-way so the state can install 180 foot tall towers on their land. And, when the electricity starts to flow, they can't even tap into it because it will be a "pass-through" that only benefits big city users. ...So, landowners are relegated to spending their hard-earned money fighting utility companies, hiring lawyers to argue in front of administrative law judges, and showing up at public hearings only to be ignored and mocked by arrogant bureaucrats paid by our tax dollars.
Yet public officials from the president and vice president to Cabinet and congressional leaders insult our intelligence by delivering scripted messages that the future of the new energy system in this country is clean renewable energy that will be delivered by countless so-called green jobs. The fake chimes of energy independence echo up and down Pennsylvania Avenue. Do headlines make truth, regardless of content? What is it about organizations like Repower America and the Center for American Progress, which provide ideology, not substance, to the administration and congressional leadership on the so-called new energy system? Why are their conclusions unchallenged?
A group of Democratic senators may seek to halt stimulus funding for wind-energy projects over concerns that the program is subsidizing jobs overseas. The dispute was prompted by a proposed wind farm in West Texas, whose investors planned to use Chinese-made turbines and seek a $450 million stimulus grant. The senators insist that stimulus funds shouldn't go to projects that get most of their materials from abroad and create "the bulk of their jobs" in other countries.
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.
Investment bankers are all aflutter with the onset of stimulus money for renewable energy projects according to the August 31 Wall Street Journal. After a long lag, numerous firms have again invested upwards of $100 million in wind farms. Investors are attracted by the quick returns made possible by the hefty federal grants and tax benefits. The growing subsidies for wind power mask wind's high cost and inherent limitations, but only for so long. ...Although appealing to many, wind power is an extremely expensive, inefficient, and unreliable source of electricity, incapable of providing base load power. Wind's intermittency, variability, line loss, necessary back-up generation, transmission needs, and dispatch complexity limit the amount of electricity wind can secure.
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.
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.
President Obama reminded reporters that Texas has one of the "strongest renewable energy standards in the country....And its wind energy has just taken off and been a huge economic boon to the state." ...Texas now has about 8,200 megawatts of installed wind power capacity. But ERCOT, in its forecasts for that summer's demand periods, when electricity use is the highest, was estimating that just 708 megawatts of the state's wind power capacity could actually be counted on as reliable.