Articles filed under Energy Policy from Texas
State regulators are making Panhandle wind developers get federal permission before pumping energy downstate, and some fear their projects could be limited. ..."It's up to (the Federal Electric Regulation Commission) to determine how much it wants to keep and how much it wants to relinquish," said Terry Hadley, PUC spokesman. "That's because that area is outside (the Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and inside the Southwest Power Pool which is under FERC jurisdiction because it is part of an interstate grid."
The Coastal Habitat Alliance - a coalition of eleven Texas-based and national organizations working to preserve the Texas Gulf Coast - today expressed satisfaction that the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas has agreed to hear their appeal regarding the group's intervenor status in the AEP 345 kV transmission line case to be held on October 17 in Austin.
The wind in the offshore area "is not super-strong, but it's steady," Jim Suydam, a spokesman with the land office, said in an interview. "The wind blows hardest in the daytime," when power is most expensive, unlike West Texas, another area with wind farms that has the strongest wind at night, he said.
Shell WindEnergy and Luminant have a partnership agreement to develop a 3,000-megawatt wind farm in Briscoe County. The final order is to include the guidelines for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to study where to build transmission lines to get the power from wind farms to population centers and who should do the building, as suggested by PUC Chairman Paul Hudson. The problem is there may be a cap of 1,000 megawatts per project.
The Texas General Land Office is offering four tracts off the state's coast in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to bidders for the Oct. 2 lease sale. ... The General Land Office explained, "These tracts may be subject to existing oil and gas leases and other encumbrances. The windpower lessee must coordinate with other lessees and permitees to ensure that rights granted under such leases and permits are not unreasonably affected."
In a bid to block two large wind energy projects on the South Texas coast, an alliance of environmental groups and landowners is taking aim at the high-voltage transmission line required for the project. The wind farms represent a $1 billion investment in a remote corner of the Kenedy Ranch.
HR 3089 seeks to combine several policy components into a single strategy of weaning this nation off its foreign-oil habit - which has resulted in the United States importing 60 percent of all the fossil fuel it uses each day.
During the proceedings leading up to Friday's decision, developers expressed interest in constructing 24,511 megawatts of wind generation, primarily in West Texas. A megawatt of electricity can power about 250 average homes. "Although the three of us have exercised our best judgement on hundreds of contested cases in our time together, this one does have the feel of the extraordinary," Hudson told his fellow commissioners. "It is, frankly, an astonishing testament to the wind resources available in our state."
The $628 million contract that the panel quietly approved devotes a third of the city's energy purchases to wind-generated sources. White hopes the idea will give the city more stability in its roughly $150 million annual electricity budget, after costs rose recently with natural gas prices. The deal would make Houston a leader among governments nationwide for using wind sources to get power.
WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Multiple reports and studies, especially those published in the last year, suggest the United States, specifically the East Coast, has great potential for offshore wind. The politicized debate over whether to develop wind power offshore has dragged on since the late 1990s, when the first project was proposed in Cape Cod, Mass., off the Nantucket Sound. Since then there have been several other proposals, none of which has been completely approved.
The region long known for sheep and goats, cattle feedyards, cotton fields and oil derricks is evolving into a hub of alternative energy, with plans for ethanol plants and wind farms, and possible nuclear reactors and coal-powered plants. "These rural communities have to find something they can have in their area that provides quality of life and will generate the economic activity that allows communities to thrive and grow," said Greg Clary, a Texas Cooperative Extension economist who works with the Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship.
LUBBOCK - Texas figures to lead the nation in renewable energy production by 2025 and stands to gain $22.8 billion in annual economic activity and 173,400 jobs overall, according to a study backed by a group that supports alternative sources of power.
There is yet another plan to get wind power to the people who need it. In testimony filed with the Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday, that group's director of transmission oversight backtracked on a previous plan he proposed. T. Brian Almon said the Panhandle Loop plan is still a bad idea, but sending power to the Dallas area via Oklahoma by the X Plan is not such a good idea either. "I believe that there exist at this time uncertainties related to how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would react to a very large export from Texas and then import into Texas of power," he said.
Meanwhile, as the nation considers options for future energy development, environmental questions have emerged as important considerations, the NRC report states. Proponents point out that wind-energy facilities emit no atmospheric pollutants and are driven by a renewable source, addressing multiple environmental concerns such as air quality and climate change. However, the NRC report also points out that the expansion of such facilities can carry adverse environmental impacts.
Early plans could threaten some proposals to build wind farms in the region and cut some Panhandle areas out of prime positions in the wind power race. The Public Utilities Commission staff recommended last week that Panhandle wind projects send their electricity to the Southwest Power Pool - which covers the Panhandle and parts of Oklahoma and other states to the north - rather than directly to the rest of Texas. That has one major wind-farm developer concerned. "Is it a viable market based on the prices paid?" said Pat Wood, chairman of the North American advisory board for wind developer Airtricity. "Based on our analysis, it is not."
A new study could put 10 Texas counties in front of the pack to lure wind energy companies and related industries to them. The city of Childress, along with 10 counties and Harmon County in Oklahoma, have formed the Rolling Plains Rural Partnership and are applying for a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office. The yearlong study, if funding is approved, would place about nine or 10 anemometers around the partnership's area. The anemometers collect and record wind data for the entire year. The exact areas the towers will be located will be determined by a meteorologist and based on elevations and current and future transmission lines. What the group is banking on is the creation of the Panhandle Loop, an electrical transmission system being debated that would transmit electricity from West Texas to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's grid, which provides electricity to a majority of Texas residents. The $1.5 billion loop is in the planning stages, but is awaiting the outcome of June hearings by the Public Utilities Commissions to approve wind energy areas in West Texas.
Taylor County landowners who went to court to fight a wind farm built in their neighborhoods may have gained a powerful ally in potential future battles: the fabled King Ranch of South Texas. The ranch ownership, now a corporate holding company, is fighting a proposed wind farm next to one of its spreads in Kenedy County. A group of Taylor County landowners, mainly residents of the southwest quadrant of the county, lost a jury trial last December. They sued Florida Power & Light affiliates, owner of the Horse Hollow project west of Tuscola and Buffalo Gap. The landowners sought damages for reduced property values they claimed were caused by the building of the wind farm, the world's largest. Steve Thompson, the Houston lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said he was filing a notice of appeal of the 42nd District Court case on Wednesday. The 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland would hear the appeal. Dale Rankin, a lead plaintiff in the case, said King Ranch should prove a potent ally. "I would think so," he said Wednesday. "They carry a little bit of weight around Austin."
In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry last year, James Clement Jr., chairman of the board of the fabled King Ranch, vowed that the ranch will fight a new threat to its land as it has all others: "We have been here for 150 years fighting droughts, border raiders, and unstable commodity markets. . . . We are here to stay." The new threat, unlike the others, is a recent phenomenon: wind power. King Ranch Inc., the agricultural holding company that owns the South Texas ranch and other properties, is backing legislation that could choke off the boom in Texas wind energy by requiring new state regulations of wind turbines.
In this pancake-flat country, where the wind blows so relentlessly that the sagebrush and mesquite are permanently bent, Royal Dutch Shell Group, BP PLC and a wind-development company owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are racing to lease vast expanses of ranchland. In a bet on wind power's long-term viability, they're planning to erect what would be some of the biggest wind farms in the world, with thousands of wind turbines costing some $2 million apiece.
Some call it a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, but others point to significant environmental costs. In Kansas, where winds blow strong, the push for clean energy includes not only new wind turbines but also new nuclear-power plants as part of a "carbon-free" solution to climate change. It's an idea that may be catching on. At least 11 new nuclear plants are in the design stage in nine states, including Virginia, Texas, and Florida, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute website. But that carbon-free pitch has researchers asking anew: How carbon-free is nuclear power? And how cost-effective is it in the fight to slow global warming? "Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."