Articles from Texas

Austin plan for renewable energy at odds with utility

But the city-owned utility, Austin Energy, has balked at the council’s proposal and said it would be too expensive for ratepayers. And since then, a debate has ensued over how to be politically progressive and economically practical at the same time. ...“It’s good to have aspirations except if the aspirations are so far afield that they are simply going to be ignored.”
17 Oct 2014

Final city council vote on southside annexation delayed

Captain Mark McLaughlin is a consultant with the Department of Defense, and he appeared during public comment at Tuesday's council meeting, where they had planned a final vote on the southside annexation. McLaughlin said the base had problems with many of the current wind farms in the area, and he thinks the Chapman Ranch wind farm would create even more problems for air traffic controllers in the Coastal Bend.
1 Oct 2014

Lawmakers should end wind subsidies

The evidence is in; wind energy claims are, at least for now, hot air. It’s time for Texas lawmakers to end the subsidies that have propped up the renewable energy market and let those industries stand on their own. That’s the conclusion of Texas Comptroller Susan Combs in a recent report.
30 Sep 2014

State comptroller criticizes wind power subsidies

Reflecting a wider discomfort among some top state officials on renewable power, the state’s chief financial officer says the state should rethink its support for wind energy. Comptroller Susan Combs said that it was “time for wind to stand on its own two feet” as she released a report Tuesday encouraging lawmakers to discontinue subsidies for electricity generation.
23 Sep 2014

US Court decision a loss for wind, but boon for storage?

Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Jerry Edwin Smith said that while PURPA promotes alternative energy, it does not “do so at the expense of the American consumer” but “mandates that the rates that utilities pay for such power shall be just and reasonable.” The majority went on to say that the more favorable pricing is meant only for those generators “able to forecast when they will deliver energy to the utility — and capable of delivering the specified amount of energy at the scheduled time.”
18 Sep 2014

Fifth Circuit holds that Texas Public Utility Commission can limit wind generation facilities’ ability to sell power under PURPA

This post offers useful insight into the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding wind power and whether utilities are mandated under Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) to purchase the energy. In the ruling, the Court found that states have the right to limit the ability of renewable energy facilities to sell power under PURPA through long-term contracts unless the facilities can provide “firm power.”  This “firm power” requirement is a problem for renewable energy developers, in particular wind and solar.
10 Sep 2014

Appellate judges reject Exelon’s bid to force Texas wind sales

A split federal appeals court panel ruled yesterday that Exelon Corp. cannot force a Texas utility to buy power from its wind farms. ...Exelon had demanded that Southwestern purchase wind for 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour up to 9 cents per kWh for the first nine years of a 20-year contract. But Southwestern argued that, because of the variable nature of wind, Exelon’s units could not provide “firm power” and it refused the terms of Exelon’s agreement.
10 Sep 2014

Apex: Wind farm could be built even if land is annexed

"The assertion ... that the annexation of the Chapman Ranch will halt the development of the wind farm is a false belief. Under state law, the Chapman Ranch wind farm development is grandfathered — a right the company is willing to defend," Ferguson said. "Within this context, if the city elects to reject a reasonable compromise and pursues annexation, it will only serve to incentivize the company to fully build out the wind farm."
27 Aug 2014

Under revamped GreenChoice, customers no longer tied to wind prices

The problem was price. A GreenChoice batch spiked to more than three times the standard electricity rate. Austin Energy officials blamed the jump in prices on a more robust West Texas wind market and clogged transmission lines that made transporting wind energy more challenging. Roger Duncan, the former general manager of Austin Energy, said it was time to consider abolishing the program.
4 Aug 2014

Texas is wired for wind power, and more farms plug in

The $7 billion is being paid for by all customers, under the regulated portion of the Texas system, which covers transmission and distribution. The Texas Public Utility Commission said the typical residential ratepayer was charged an extra $6 a month or so. “There are some things about the CREZ lines that can leave a bad taste in your mouth.”
27 Jul 2014

Analysis: Texas considers passing on transmission costs

Nelson is pushing hard for the re-assessment. She has in the past criticised the wind production tax credit (PTC), even although it is a federal policy and not in her purview. A proportion of her three-page memo was about the PTC. It stated: "The federal [PTC] distorts wholesale electric markets... While this commission has no ability to change what Congress does, we do have an obligation to Texans to periodically review whether our rules appropriately assign cost to those who cause those costs."
22 Jul 2014

Is Texas souring on wind power?

Wind power developers warn that making wind companies pay the same transmission rates as other generators will destroy Texas’ lead in wind power and undermine the economics of wind generation. [Public Utility Commission head, Donna] Nelson, however, claims that giving wind companies a pass is no longer necessary because the industry has been around long enough to figure out its economics.
11 Jul 2014
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