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Texas wind boom continues

image credit: Adobe Stock

Driven by the massive expansion of high-voltage transmission during the last decade, and extremely attractive market incentives and contracts, Texas has become the most fruitful state for wind development in the United States.  During 2018, electricity production from wind farms in Texas reached 73.3 million MWh.  To put that figure into perspective, consider that all utility-scale solar in the U.S. accounted for only 63.5 million MWh during the same period. 

In just two decades, Texas wind capacity has grown from virtually nothing to more than 28 GW of installed operating capacity today – that’s 27.4% of all operating wind capacity across the country.  New capacity additions in the state during 2019 totaled 3,895 MW.  Already in 2020, 168 MW of new capacity has started operation, with 308 MW currently in testing, while 3,106 MW is under construction.  The wind projects currently in construction across Texas, represent 18.3% of the U.S. total.

Source: ABB Ability Velocity Suite

Additionally, according to data compiled by ABB’s Velocity Suite team, there are 2,035 MW of projects already holding permits, 8,493 MW with pending applications, and 1,158 MW proposed – all with potential 2020 online dates. 

Texas wind farms starting operations in 2019 include:

  • Xcel Energy’s Hale County Wind (478 MW), Hale County
  • Enel SpA’s High Lonesome Wind Farm (450 MW), Crockett County
  • Innergex Renewable Energy’s Foard City Wind (350 MW), Foard County
  • Invenergy LLC’s Santa Rita Wind East (302 MW), Irion County
  • NextEra Energy’s Torrecillas Wind Farm (301 MW), Duval County
  • Quinbrook Infrastructure Partner’s Ranchero Wind (300 MW), Crockett County
  • Sammons Enterprise’s Cabezon Wind (238 MW), Starr County
  • NRG Energy’s Patriot Wind Farm (226 MW), Nueces County
  • ENGIE SA’s Wilson Ranch Farm (201 MW), Schleicher County
  • Duke Energy’s Mesteño Windpower Project (201 MW), Starr County
  • The rest online in 2019 (607 MW)
  • Total online in 2019 (3,895 MW)

And already through the first two weeks of January two projects have come online and two are in testing:

  • NextEra Energy’s Red Raider Wind Farm (80 MW), operating, Hockley County
  • NextEra Energy’s Indian Mesa Wind Farm (88.75 MW), operating, Pecos County
  • Iberdrola SA’s Karankawa Wind Farm, two-phases (308 MW total) testing, San Patricio County
  • The rest currently under-construction, and expected online in 2020 total (2,798 MW)   

Recent activity 

On January 6, 2020, Duke Energy’s subsidiary, Duke Energy Renewables announced that it’s 201.6 megawatt (MW) Mesteño Windfarm project in Starr County had started commercial operation on the last day of December 2019.  The Mesteño project is Duke’s fourth wind facility in Starr County and its eleventh in Texas. 

The project’s energy will be sold under a long-term hedge agreement into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) electricity market.  This project marks one of the most recent additions to the ERCOT grid.  Vesta’s supplied Duke with 56 V136-3.6 MW turbines.  The towers and turbines reach a height of 590.5 feet.  Amshore US Wind supplied development support for the project, and Wanzek Construction was the contractor.

Along with Duke’s Mesteño project starting operations in December, was Enel Green Power North America’s behemoth 450 MW High Lonesome Wind Farm, which started operations just before Christmas.  The $720 million project, capable of generating 1.9 million MWh annually, is Enel’s largest global wind farm in operation to date. 

Most of the project’s capacity (295 MW) will be hedged under a proxy revenue swap (PRS) with insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty’s Alternative risk transfer unit and Nephila Climate, a provider of weather and climate risk management products.  The company has also secured a contract with Danone North America to deliver 20.6 MW of energy over 12 years.

PTC extension supports continued wind development   

Driven by late-year support written into the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019, which passed congressional approval in December, a one-year extension to the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) was granted.  The new legislation extended the PTC through 2020 and restored it to 60% (from 40%) of its full 2.5 cents/kWh value.  The determinant to qualify for the PTC is for a project to either enter service or secure 5% safe harboring (spending at least 5% of the total estimated project cost) through the 2020 calendar year.  The PTC extension will support continued growth in Texas and the overall U.S. wind industry throughout the year. 

Kent Knutson's picture

Thank Kent for the Post!

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Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jan 19, 2020 9:20 pm GMT


Thanks. Great to see continued growth of wind in TX. Wind generation almost bypassed coal on ERCOT this year. Will definitely pass in 2020.

There is still plenty of coal for wind to replace in Texas - so lots of opportunity for new wind projects.

Don't forget about Solar... still small in TX but growing quickly.

Many of these wind projects you mention can/will have solar added to them in coming years. 

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