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Blow, Baby, Blow: Wind Power Hits Record High in Texas


A new high-voltage transmission system will help the Lone Star State double its ability to incorporate renewable energy into the grid.

In Texas, the wind industry hit a new record for generation. On the night of March 26, wind power surpassed 10,000 megawatts of generation -- a new high, according to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). That was enough to account for 29% of the Lone Star State's 35,768 megawatts being generated that night.

The higher level of wind power generation was made possible by a massive new high-voltage transmission system that connects wind farms in West Texas to load centers farther east. The West Texas transmission lines cost $7 billion and were completed late last year. While the price tag was high, it will allow Texas to nearly double its ability to integrate renewable energy into the grid. The windiest areas in Texas are in the west. On March 26, when the wind power record was broken, only 1,433 megawatts came from wind power along the Gulf Coast; most of the rest came from West Texas.

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Long known for leading the nation in oil and gas development, Texas is also a powerhouse when it comes to wind. Texas leads the nation by far in the installed capacity of wind energy at around 11,000 megawatts. There are an additional 8,000 megawatts of new wind power either planned or under construction, with a further 26,700 megawatts being considered. Texas blew past its renewable portfolio standard, which called for 5,880 megawatts of clean energy to be installed by 2015, with a goal of 10,000 megawatts by 2025.
For years wind power has been the renewable energy of choice for project developers. But after the production tax credit was renewed at the 11th hour at the end of 2012 for only one additional year, the project pipeline dried up for wind power, and new installations fell off a cliff as a result. New capacity declined by 93% in 2013 from a year earlier.

This article was written by James Burgess of
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