Library from Texas
Electric bills for city of Georgetown customers will increase by an average of $12.82 per month starting Feb. 1 to help the city recover the cost of purchasing energy, according to a city news release.
Calpine Corp. of Houston and NRG Energy of Houston and Princeton, N.J., asked the state to assign transmission losses based on the distance the power travels, a move that would benefit traditional power companies which tend to have plants closer to population centers and hurt wind and solar farms in the remote parts of the state
The indefinite mothballing of a 470-MW coal-fired plant has reduced ERCOT’s “pretty scary” reserve margin of 8.1% to 7.4%, prodding the Texas Public Utility Commission into ordering several market changes.
The Wharton County Commissioners Court unanimously decided not to move forward with a 312 tax abatement application from Wharton Wind, LLC during its Monday session. The 5-0 decision came in front of dozens of people who packed the meeting room inside the Wharton County Annex Building in Wharton.
The Devils River Conservancy, is spearheading the “Don’t Blow It” campaign to advocate for thoughtful regulation of wind energy development — an industry quickly expanding in rural Texas, largely without rules and with serious negative implications for Texans.
Seventus LLC and Wharton Wind LLC are seeking to erect an industrial wind energy facility in Wharton County, Texas. A number of county residents organized in an effort to share information regarding the wind energy proposal and to discuss potential harmful impacts once the project is placed in service. Lacricia Ryan, who with her family operate a crop-dusting business in Wharton County, is part of the group looking to educate the community about the project.
Georgetown officials will try to renegotiate the city’s renewable energy contracts and find other cost cuts after a late-summer drop in energy market prices lost the city’s utility $6.84 million.
“It’s my impression, that something was done wrong, incorrectly, illegally, inappropriately, that’s what this is saying. We had a beautiful place to live, now we’re looking at 12, 500-foot tall industrial wind turbine towers on one side of our house and on the other side there’s 100-foot tall transmission line towers — we were never notified of any of this. When the surveyors came onto our property they wouldn’t tell me who they were or what they were doing there. I found out from one town employee, they were from the wind project, we never received a thing about this. What the project was, the scope, implications, impacts. That’s what I’m saying, this is my impression.”
NRG and Calpine are asking Texas regulators to end the equal sharing of lost electricity costs and assign them to companies according to the distance the electricity moves along transmission lines, giving their coal and natural gas power plants, which are closer to Houston and other population centers, an advantage.
The 300 megawatt Sage Draw Wind farm — which is selling electricity to Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) under a power purchase agreement with the farm’s owner, Denmark-based Ørsted — is set to draw $22.56 million in tax incentives over the course of 10 years.
Renewable energy supporters are bracing for a fight in the next legislative session. Help state lawmakers give to solar and wind companies must be renewed when lawmakers return to Austin in January.
Dan Houchin, who lives in the area, claimed countless roads across precinct 2 are damaged and the heavy machinery associated with carrying the windmills are making some of them worse. He also complained of the crews pouring caliche on some of the roads and questioned the commissioners about who would continue road maintenance once the windmills are in place.
The formation of the reinvestment zone now allows E.On to begin negotiations with Matagorda County on the wind farm. The project was tabled a year ago and brought back to the table after the reinvestment zone was scaled down to the parcel of land that will be used during this phase of the proposed project.
New Mexico regulators approved construction this month of what could be the Western Hemisphere’s largest wind farm, capable of generating as much power as a mid-sized nuclear power plant. But whether all that energy will have a way to reach the load centers of California and the Southwest remains unclear after the regulators denied approval for new transmission lines meant to link the wind project to urban areas.
Texas has virtually no rules of any kind, making it an unregulated haven that attracts even more growth from the wind industry here. That worries some who fear what today’s rush will mean for the future.
Detractors of the project said the county needs to consider the cost to resident and the benefit they will receive in return. Chapter 312 of the Texas Tax Code was enacted to bring jobs to Texas, which allows taxpayers incentivize development via their local governments, the development brings jobs, and taxpayers benefit with employment opportunities and increased tax revenue.
About 40 attended the forum at the Brownwood High School auditorium, and several went forward, at the invitation of moderator and Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes, to give opinions — mostly against — on wind energy. May landowner Joe Guidry was an exception, saying those opposed to wind farms “have a biased agenda based on a multitude of different platforms.”
The lawsuit filed by the appraisal district asks the judge “cancel and set aside the decision of the appraisal review board” and that “an order be entered fixing, in accordance with the law, the market value of the (wind farm), as required by law.”
Conflicts between energy producers and conservationists are nothing new in Texas, but a recent fight in Val Verde County centers around wind farms and whether they belong in one of the wildest natural areas left in the state. Members of the Devils River Conservancy, whose group includes landowners with property on the Devils River, have launched a campaign called “Don’t Blow It,” to advocate against wind development along the Devils and Pecos rivers north of the Texas-Mexico border.
There’s no question, Georgetown is paying dearly for its surplus energy. With annual demand growing at roughly 3% per year, it could be 15+ years before the City’s consumption begins to match its contracted supply.