Energy & Environment

Wind Becoming Major Source Of Electricity For Texas

It wasn’t so many years ago that wind turbines seemed like a novelty.

windmills-in-West-Texas-by-Mose-Buchele-levels.jpg
Windmills in West Texas. Image credit: Mose Buchele, KUT

 

Texas officials are reporting that electricity generated by some 15,000 wind turbines statewide now accounts for about 11 percent of the state’s total. Natural gas and coal are still the biggest fuels for making electricity.  But Trip Doggett with the Texas electric grid management agency, ERCOT, says when the wind is blowing hard in West Texas, the amount of wind power soars.

“We’ve served nearly 40 percent of our load on multiple occasions from the wind,” Doggett told the state senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development.

In additional data provided to News 88.7, ERCOT said this past Christmas Day was one for the record books: wind provided about 30 percent of the total electricity not just briefly, but all day.

Tom Kiernan with American Wind Energy Association says there are several reason why Texas is producing so much wind power, over double the output of number two Iowa.

“Texas has good wind, its windy in the state. It has built over the decade or so good transmission,” said Kiernan.

Those new transmission lines completed last year with coordination by state regulators solved what had been a big problem: getting power made in remote areas of windy West Texas to where it was needed in big cities. The cost of the $7 billion dollar project will be paid over time by electricity customers.

Congress is now considering whether to extend federal tax breaks to the wind industry, breaks the industry says it still needs to be competitive but which are opposed by the oil & gas and coal industries.

 

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Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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