Skip to comments.Texas tops nation in new wind power construction
Posted on 01/31/2014 5:03:17 AM PST by thackney
Energy companies were installing a record level of wind turbines as 2013 came to a close, with most of the new capacity coming in Texas, according to new figures released Thursday.
More than 12,000 megawatts of wind power were under construction across 20 states during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Associations industry market report. The trade group says thats enough to power 3.5 million homes.
By far the biggest chunk of that was in Texas, which saw 7,000 megawatts under construction, propelled by new transmission lines linking remote Panhandle wind farms to customers in Houston, Dallas and other cities. The only other state to come remotely close was Iowa, with 1,050 megawatts under construction late last year.
Texas is really responsible for the boom in the construction numbers, largely due to the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission lines, said Emily Williams, a senior policy analyst for AWEA.
Although turbines are associated with West Texas, Williams noted that the wind resources are blowing statewide. And weather patterns mean that when the turbines arent spinning in West Texas, they may be along the Gulf Coast.
Construction has not yet begun on some planned Texas wind energy projects, where corporate purchasers are locking in long-term deals. Both Google and Microsoft have signed long-term agreements for power from Texas wind farms.
Most of the Texas projects currently under construction will be used as merchant capacity, which isnt sold under long-term contracts. Merchant generation is offered into the market at current rates, to be tapped during periods of excess demand, such as hot summer afternoons. Because of the demand uncertainty, merchant generation is more vulnerable to fluctuating market conditions and prices.
Federal tax debate
Wind industry leaders also credit the federal renewable energy production tax credit with helping spur investment in the sector. The credit, which expired on Dec. 31, allowed project owners to reduce their tax bills by 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce over a 10-year period.
The fourth quarter results show the production tax credit continues to be an effective and efficient policy, Kiernan said. Congress should act quickly to extend it to maintain a stable business environment, so that wind energy can continue to provide more affordable, clean homegrown energy.
Critics say the tax credit has outlived its usefulness. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, and 53 other lawmakers sent a letter to congressional tax writers last year labeling the credit more valuable than the price of the electricity the plants actually generate.
Too many subsidies however...
Sometimes I play golf in Muenster, TX. There a quite a few wind turbines there. The noise they make is quite disturbing, IMO. Drives me nuts ... sure glad I don’t live near them.
Take the subsidies away and see how many remain. Probably 2%.
The good news here is that most of us on FR will live long enough to see the dismantling of the wind system.
Simple economics will force the issue, as it is beginning to in Germany.
When the taxpayer money stops flowing, those windmills will stop turning.
“In a drive from Sweetwater to Lubbock last weekend, it looked like we saw all of these. Too many subsidies however... “
Well, there’s a bunch out there for sure. I live in the DFW metroplex and am on a deer lease west of Crowell on the Pease River. Sometimes while making the drive I feel like I’m in the War of the Worlds movie. Some of those huge power lines referred to in the article cut through the Crowell/Quanah area. It’s really interesting to watch the lines being strung. Guys are perched on the spars by helicopter so to attach the rigging for the power cables. The rigging and cables are moved into position by helicopter as well. Anyway, it’s interesting and fun to watch during the midday hunting lull. A growth employment opportunity for young and daring country boys :)
“Take the subsidies away and see how many remain. Probably 2%.”
There is supposed to a “rainy day” fund in Austin that is to pay for the destruction and removal of these turbines when (not if) the subsidies run out and they inevitably go dormant. Right. All of the ranches that have accepted these disasters, ruining their wildlife populations in the process, will be stuck with them in a decade or so. Also, transmission lines are running years behind windmill construction so a good percentage of them are spinning aimlessly and generating nothing other than an eyesore.
Thanks again, George W.
Well sometimes my fellow Texans can “act stupidly” to turn a phrase...
The trade group says thats enough to power 3.5 million homes.
When the wind blows....
And they don’t understand that as more of these wind devices are put up, they will begin to slow the rotation of the earth, causing more warming!
Did you count the inoperative towers?
Back in ‘11, we traveled all over Texas and especially out west where the low ridges support miles and iles of the towers.
I would make a count and almost always there was a 10% inoperative level. That is the minimum. The rate could go as high as 25 % in some locations.
Having made such counts all over the country, the rate of inoperation is never less than 10 %.
There were far too many towers to count, especially driving at west Texas speeds...
I think the in-ops were closer to 1~3%, not too many.
And we propbaly saw just as many oil pumps.
It’s actually a very good setting for them. Constant wind through the hills up that way.
Definitely not as many as you'll find out west, but they're always spinning.
Texas has experienced blackouts and near blackouts during this time of year in 2008, 2011, 2012 and January 6th this year when cold snaps drive up demand and in many instances the much vaunted windmills are not able to keep up with that demand. The same weather fronts that bring these cold snaps also drop wind speeds or ice up the windmills so fossil fuel plants must be available to take up the slack. In 2011, two fossil fuel plants were off line for maintenance causing rolling black outs and officials begging Mexico for electricity. Building even more windmills would IMHO not be much of a solution.
Seriously how much better off would Texas be as an independent republic.
Not true. Once the windmill is installed, the capital investment has been made. Thereafter, there are maintainance costs, but since there are no fuel costs, they are very profitable. Plus, windmills generate quick cashflow. If you build a nuke plant, it takes 20 years to get cash flow.
Just compare: Wind and solar have a relatively high capital cost but a very low operating cost. Coal and Nat Gas have a relatively low capital cost and a high operating cost(the cost of fuel). In recent years nat gas has been cheap so most of the new generating capacity being added is nat gas fired. Wind is a distant second and coal is a distant third.
This is why they subsidize wind for 7 or 10 years, to mitigate the high capital costs. The IRS regs also allow the windmills a faster depreciation schedule.
They recoup their capital costs by operating.
As for recycling, this is all easy to get to steel that is easy to recycle. OTOH, the steel pipelines and steel casing in every oil/gas well never gets recycled. It costs a lot to get it out of the ground.
As for the transmission lines, the article points out the new lines in Texas. That's 2700 miles of new lines. Intrastate lines relatively easy to get built. Interstate lines are harder because FERC, the fed agency, has relatively less authority than the state agencies.