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Texas Grid Finally Catches Up With Wind Power Output

Renewable Energy

For years Texas was producing more wind power than it could effectively put to use.   Between 2006 and 2009 over 7,000 megawatts of wind capacity was built in the state.  These turbines were almost entirely located in the windy plains of West Texas.  But most of the state’s population is located further east in the Dallas, Austin and Houston metro areas.  This proved to be a problem.  Wind capacity in the west was being built out faster than the grid capacity to transmit the power to where it was needed.

The result was a substantial amount of curtailments and even negative pricing for wind electricity in Texas’ real-time wholesale electricity spot market.  Negative pricing for wind electricity is made possible by federal wind credits that pay wind energy producers to generate power even if they are getting a negative price for their electricity.

A new report by the EIA, however, shows that the number of curtailments and negative pricing events have fallen dramatically since the state has completed a massive, multi-year, multi-billion dollar project to upgrade its infrastructure and build new high capacity transmission lines to move all of this wind power across the state.

Dubbed the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) Project, the plan to ease the state’s transmission congestion problem took several years to complete and required an investment of over $7 billion by the state’s rate payers.  Ultimately, the project consisted of around 180 transmission projects which enable the state to move power from the 5 CREZ zones designated by the Texas PUC to the state’s population centers.

Today more than 12,000MW of electricity in Texas comes from wind power. The state known for being a fossil fuel juggernaut has quietly become a leader in the U.S. in the area of renewable energy.   The Texas wind energy portfolio is the largest of any state and would even be near the top if listed among the countries of the world.   It is also home to the largest federal wind farm in the country.

As impressive as the state’s current wind capacity seems, proponents envision and even larger role for wind in the Texas electricity market.  The Wind Coalition points out that:

“According to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Texas’ land-based wind potential at an 80-meter hub height is 1,901,530 MW, the best resource in the United States and the equivalent of 18 times the state’s current electricity needs,”

This statement was made as part of written comments submitted to The Texas Public utility Commission in which the Wind Coalition urged an even bigger role for wind energy as planners look at how the state could meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan.

Indeed, Texas seems to be well positioned to deal with increasingly tough emission regulations.  With the completion of the CREZ project they have managed to better integrate the state’s wind production assets with the state’s electricity grid and could be seen as a model for other jurisdictions that struggle to integrate renewable power with existing infrastructures.

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Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on September 25, 2014
As a friend of nuclear energy, I am tremendously glad to hear about the success of wind in Texas. What I dont like though is to hear or read about the amount of capacity - i.e. Power - in metawatts being installed. In my World over here the significant unit is energy - megawatt hours. As you know, this is because of the capacity factor, which in Germany is apparently often under 20%. In those circumstances capacity does not say much, unless you Think - as some people do - that nuclear has no future,

Where wind works it should be used. And I am not afraid of subsidies for wind if this is necessary to get the show on the road. What we want though is a good show, and not the kind in Denmark, that comes complete with a barrage of lies and misunderstanding.

Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on September 26, 2014
Well I am blown away so to speak.

Fred - you will never hear a wind energy proponent talk about capacity factor. It does not really matter whether there is 12,000 MW or a million megawatts of installed capacity - when the wind is not blowing the power outputy is nil.

The critical number - always omitted and once again omitted here is how many megawatt hours was actually produced. That is of course why the Texas grid was having problems. Too much wind when they did not need the power and not enough wind when they do. It has not yet dawned on wind proponents that the wind cannot be controlled and that fact makes it nearly useless as a means of generating reliable affordable electricity.

So let's have some real numbers. The capacity factor at the very best is only about 25 to 30% and the wind does not blow when the demand is there and often blows when the demand is not there.

Without large scale electricity storage intermittent power supplies are of little or no use.

It is of course very nice to have Uncle Sam pick up the tab for an inefficient and othersise unaffordable technology. Denmark - the great wind flagship has some of the highest electricity prices in the world and that is a direct result of this inefficient technology. Denmark wind proponents of course do not tell you what they do when the wind does not blow. They buy electrical energy froim their neighbours at premium rates. France and Sweden are happy to do that.

So let's have a discussion about the real results of wind power. 7000 MW x 24 as opposed to 7000MW x 24 x 0.3

They are not the same numbers.


Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on September 26, 2014
Malcolm, I Think I have also said on hundreds of occasions that Denmark has the highest electricity price in Europé, and it would be higher if it were not for dumb folks like me, who are forced to help pay for the electricity used by e.g. Denmark and that other champion of wind and solar Germany, Maybe that is why it is claimed that the Danes are the happiest people in the World. They make fools out of surrounding countries where the price of electricity is concerned.

Actually I have never Heard about the Texas grid having problems. All the news I get from that part of the World about electricity is positive. I hope that things go well for them however, because then things might go well for those big wind parks they are going to build in Sweden. Goofy ideas brought to fruition is a nice way of putting it.

Richard Vesel's picture
Richard Vesel on October 7, 2014
Congratulations to Texas!

For those who are selectively deaf to the not so quiet penetration of renewable power sources:

"n 2013, renewable power capacity expanded at its fastest pace to date. Renewable power generation continued to grow strongly, reaching almost 22% of the global mix, compared to 21% in 2012 and 18% in 2007. Globally, renewable electricity generation is now on par with natural gas generation, which remained relatively stable in 2013. Investment in new renewable power capacity topped USD 250 billion globally in 2013 and is likely to remain at high levels."


Now if there were some encouragements to deploy utility-scale storage, perhaps starting in 2020 and set to run for a decade, we might reach 50-60% renewable generation by 2030.

Stay tuned!


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