Skip to comments.Cost of West Texas power lines could shock ratepayers, author says
Posted on 10/18/2013 4:41:26 AM PDT by thackney
The cost of new transmission lines built to carry wind power across Texas may come back to haunt ratepayers across the state, while their importance to the grid has diminished, an expert on Texas wind power said Thursday at a luncheon sponsored by the Gulf Coast Power Association.
These transmission lines, called the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, are a network of new power lines being built to carry West Texas wind power to Austin and the Dallas-Forth Worth area.
The amount of money going into CREZ lines is staggering, said Kate Galbraith, a journalist and author of The Great Texas Wind Rush.
Galbraith said that the original $5 billion budget for the transmission lines has grown to more than $6 billion, because of land acquisition and other costs.
Thats 300 dollars for every Texan, Galbraith said. Its 30 percent more than the 5.4 billion in public education cuts that the legislature has been squabbling about since they introduced them in 2011.
When Gov. Rick Perry first authorized the construction of $5 billion of transmission lines to link West Texas wind farms to the grid in 2008, there was a remarkably different energy environment in Texas. Since then, dramatic growth in oil and gas drilling West Texas has both increased the demand for power in the area and because of the new abundance of low-priced natural gas has made the demand for wind power drop, Galbraith noted.
Further reductions in wind power could come from the possible end of the federal wind production tax credit, which the wind industry has relied on to help make wind energy financially viable, Galbraith said. The tax break, due to expire at the end of December, gives wind developers 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of energy produced.
In Texas, the arrival of low-priced natural gas and Tea Party politics has lessened interest in subsidizing wind power.
The conversation is that Texas is an all of the above state with grave concerns about subsidies, Galbraith said.
The end of the production tax credit could mean that there will not be enough wind power for the transmission capacity of the CREZ lines, leaving gird planners and generators looking for other options.
If the production tax credits expire, will the CREZ lines be filled? Galbraith asked. Will they be filled with wind power, or with natural gas power, or will they become lines to nowhere? We will see.
However, wind energy in West Texas may benefit from the effect that the drought has had on gas-fired plants, which require significant amounts of water for cooling.
There is going to be a tough time in getting power plants gas built in parts of west Texas, Galbraith said. This will be much more of a talking point around wind going forward.
Sounds like something I get when I eat chilli.
Texans can thank TBone Pickins for that.
“from the possible end of the federal wind production tax credit”
When the federal taxpayers open credit card is cut off, we will see the end of the stupid wind energy crapola.
If wind energy was such a great idea, it would not require government money to keep it in operation.
I am an active military guy. When I moved duty stations from Florida to Texas, everything doubled. This state has very high property taxes, ridiculous insurance costs (thanks illegals) and very high utility rates.
Germany and Britain are learning at terrible cost what it means to rely on wind power. Texas needs to stop this insanity.
They just need to come out and say it -
“Look, there are the windmills. Feel better about yourselves, libs? Good. Now let’s go build a nuke plant and generate some real power.”
There is a freeper, I don’t remember who he is or I would ping him - he was involved in the industry and basically stated that if money didn’t come from the fed government windpower would be so impractical NOBODY would use it.
I can’t imagine a greater example of corruption of government - it’s robbery at the highest level.
Wind Lobby was very strong. PTC gave them a lot of money to grease a lot of palms.
With CREZ lines in service there will be a higher limit of West to North, probably none. That means that at night to total system LMP could be negative. How long are real generators pay to be on line?
There is more than on FReeper saying that.
There are few small power applications where it makes sense. I've designed small wind power units for remote oil and gas limited facilities, like a valve station. As long as it is done without subsidies, I have no problem with it.
Wind is BIG business even though it doesn’t seem to be big energy. We live near the power lines and it is astounding the size and process of building the lines. I understand there is nothing as of yet for them to carry. Wise planning to please environmentalists and big business, not. IF they would build nuclear plants at the end of those lines, that might make them a good investment. Otherwise, a fool’s errand, in my opinion.
What area are you in?
It does become a chicken or the egg situation. You don't want to spend money for lines before you have power to move. You don't want to build remote power generators without lines to move them.
Typically there are both projects being built near the same time.
North of Abilene. I still think nuclear plants at the end of those lines is the best solution. The amount of effort to build one windmill seems huge to me. Have you ever seen the transport required for one blade, one turbine,one tower?
Texas started putting up small scale wind in the early 80s.
The real push began when Enron bought the California wind company Zond in '97. The first renewable standards were established in '99 to be reached by 2009.
Because of the nat gas shortages, Texas reached those renewable standards in 2003-2004. So the lege set new renewable standards in 2005 and authorized the CREZ project.
Pickens was never in the wind business, but he saw some potential and was able to get a CREZ located there in Roberts county where his ranch was, along with the other land owners in Mesa Water. Nothing ever came of it. He lost money. Pickens was betting on the PUC not awarding any windlines, which would have allowed him to build a single windline to DFW, and on the windline right of way he could also locate his water pipeline to DFW.
The Texas PUC finally awarded contracts on the new wind lines in Jan, 2009. Pickens and Mesa Water sold those water rights a couple of years ago
East of you is a lot of wind turbines and more coming.
The Roscoe Wind Farm, in Roscoe, Texas, Nolan County, is the largest wind farm in the world, generating 800 megawatts of energyenough to power 265,000 homes. The farm spans parts of four Texas counties and covers nearly 100,000 acres. Most of the states new wind capacity in the last two years has occurred in the Abilene-Sweetwater area just east of Roscoe.
Have you ever seen the transport required for one blade, one turbine,one tower?
Oh yes. A lot of those in West Texas come through the Port of Houston.