Library filed under Energy Policy from Texas
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.
SWEETWATER, Texas | Now, as more than a century ago, the wind that whips constantly through this stretch of West Texas leaves the local community divided.
Predicting that a debate among constituents on property rights versus preserving Gillespie County's scenic beauty would be non-productive, county commissioners are ditching their quest for legislation to let them decide whether wind turbines could be erected here.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are trying to pass House Bill 1273 and the bill says that money given by wind energy farms to wealthy districts need to be part of "Robin Hood." "Robin Hood" will then distribute the money through out other districts. Now some school districts in the Big Country can be heavily affected if House Bill 1273 passes.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. added 535 MW of new gas-fired capacity in March, while generation interconnection requests for wind and coal projects surged ...As of March 31, ERCOT is now tracking 51,897 MW of generation interconnection requests for wind capacity, a 2,141-MW increase from 49,756 MW as of Feb. 28. Generation requests for coal projects jumped to 9,731 from 8,126 MW, while gas requests rose to 27,488 from 27,187 MW in February.
The Gillespie County Commissioners have decided not to pursue local wind farm regulation and will not hold a public meeting on the matter, according to County Judge Mark Stroeher. ...State Senator Troy Fraser filed legislation last month to allow the county commissioners to restrict wind farm construction and said his office immediately began receiving complaints from landowners worried that their property rights might be violated.
Perhaps the biggest mistake Texas power players are making during the current financial crisis is not implementing a capacity market to spur investment in new baseload projects, a group of panelists told a Gulf Coast Power Association conference Thursday in Houston. A substantial growth in wind generation in Texas has left a need for new baseload generation.
Wind-farm developers, retail electric providers and others in Texas outlined their recommended approaches for dealing with overloaded power lines in areas with thousands of megawatts of wind farms, according to filings posted at the Public Utility Commission of Texas Thursday. Such congestion forces the curtailment of wind-turbine operations, so parties want to establish a system for priority dispatch of power generated by wind-turbines in the "competitive renewable energy zones" in Texas.
His company purchased 687 wind turbines from General Electric for $2 billion that can produce 1,000 MW and will be delivered in 2011. But there aren't yet any transmission lines from his wind park to the Texas grid to deliver the electricity to the Texans. Initially he was going to build the transmission lines himself, but now that's "questionable," he said during a stop in San Francisco Wednesday, part of a tour to promote his alternative-energy plan. A transmission line to the west or east from the Texas Panhandle, he told members of the press, is "a little bit big for us."
Kerr County commissioners have sent a message to Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation officials regarding possible routes for transmission lines in the area. "Go to another county," said Pct. 1 Commissioner Buster Baldwin during Monday's commission meeting. County commissioners also asked for the transmission lines to follow existing rights-of-way.
Concerned about the possible effects of proposed wind power legislation on their property rights, some Fredericksburg area landowners have voiced opposition to a bill by State Senator Troy Fraser that would allow the Gillespie County Commissioners' Court to restrict wind farm construction. "Once the bill was filed, the phones started lighting up." Fraser said. "We need to gauge both support and opposition."
The Gillespie County Commissioners' Court will be given the power to restrict wind farm construction if legislation filed Monday by State Senator Troy Fraser makes it through the Texas Legislature. "I think we have a good chance of getting it through my committee and through the senate," Fraser said. "It is very clear that the county judge and commissioners are asking for this authority."
Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) filed legislation on Monday to authorize the Gillespie County Commissioners Court to regulate the construction of wind energy electric generating facilities in the unincorporated areas of the county. Senate Bill 1226 specifically will allow Gillespie County to prohibit or restrict the location of a facility in all or part of the county.
It was nearly a year ago that a sudden drop in the wind out in West Texas played havoc with the state's biggest electricity grid, as backup generation failed to quickly fill the gap and emergency safeguards barely contained what could have been a major power disruption. ...While the current financial crisis has curtailed investment in wind power, the growing certainty of U.S. legislation putting a cost on carbon emissions should keep wind power growing, other speakers said.
For the last decade, when most people have thought of renewable energy in Texas, they have usually thought of wind. But this year, solar and other forms of renewable energy are starting to get a place at the table at the Legislature. Legislation including incentives and rebates could pave the way ...Today, legislators and environmentalists will hold statewide news conferences to draw attention to solar energy.
Texas utility regulators on Thursday awarded nine companies rights to build $5 billion in new electric transmission lines to move power from windy areas to big cities like Dallas and San Antonio, a move aimed at doubling renewable energy supplies. ...But rapid addition of turbines in the western half of the state outstripped the ability of the existing high-voltage network to move the power to the state's largest cities, creating costly grid congestion in 2008.