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jpak

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How Texas Made Wind Energy a Real Player

http://blog.ucsusa.org/wind-energy-in-texas-431

Press reports of Texas completing new transmission lines for wind describe an energy boom with a difference ó this is carbon-free wind energy. The grid operator in Texas, ERCOT, says agreements are already done for 7,500 MW of new wind power, most of which will be using the new transmission lines by 2016. That will put installed Texas wind around 20,000 MW. There are 15 U.S. states with 1,000 MW or more, but Texas wind is already twice as big as the next largest wind states, California and Iowa.

For size comparison, ERCOTís winter demand for electricity can hit 57,000 MW, and summer demand peaks upwards of 68,000 MW. The energy from wind varies with the weather and time of day, as does the electric demand. Line these up, and see how much has wind actually contributed: on Christmas Day, 2013, wind supplied 26 percent of ERCOTís electricity use. On January 29, 2013, Texas wind power produced 32 percent of total electricity needed.

How has this happened?

This is a great story of collective action, mandated by the Texas state legislature. It all started with the Texas RPS law, signed by Governor Bush. Once Texans found wind could be profitable, the legislature raised the RPS and set out this transmission planning-and-building requirement known as CREZ. Eight years in the making, from designing the transmission to completion.

During these eight years, many advocacy efforts tried to describe how to duplicate this in other regions. Texas does all its electricity policy and planning in one city, Austin. There isnít any other state involved, and the electricity sector is largely exempt from Federal energy market rules. These unique circumstances have not been available to another transmission-for-wind effort.

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