Viridian Note 00188: Texas Wind Power

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
Texas Renewable Energy Industry Association, American Wind Energy Association, state and federal energy policy, renewables portfolio standard

Attention Conservation Notice: Windy Texan bragging may be especially annoying if you are a Californian under a brownout.

Entries in the Viridian Magazine Cover Contest:

This contest has been extended until September 5th.

Links: "BERKELEY, Calif., Aug. 30 == The 'I Want Clean Air' site at lets people stop air pollution while surfing the Web. For each visitor clicking, the site makes a donation to the Clean Air Conservancy, a non-profit group. The CAC uses the money to buy air pollution emission permits and retires them forever." "If you spent your summer choking on Interstate fumes as you tried to find some scrap of wilderness to camp in, here are seven words to lift your spirits: September 21 is World Car-Free Day." "Now is the time for anyone interested in volunteering to help at the Renewable Energy Roundup in Fredericksburg, Texas to get signed up. Please take the time to visit the web site and the Volunteer page for all the details. WE NEED LOTS OF VOLUNTEERS!"

(((If you do attend the Renewable Energy Roundup, by all means drop by our Viridian Outreach table, where you will probably be asked to babysit our collection of weird gizmos and ultra-hip design books.)))

Source: AWEA email

"I know that Texans have a lot to be proud of. I don't want to threaten that well-known Texas humility, but wanted to stress how impressed we are (...). I wanted to make sure that each of you saw a copy of the press release we sent out today hailing the state's achievements(...). We believe the leadership demonstrated by Texas has profound implications for the national debate in regard to electric industry restructuring, and that you are providing an example of which Congress (amongst others) ought to be more familiar.

"Feel free to pass this along to anyone you think appropriate. (...)"

Randy Swisher Executive Director American Wind Energy Association 122 C St., NW, Suite 380 Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 383-2500 Fax (202) 383-2505

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2000 Contact: Tom Gray (802) 649-2112 Christine Real de Azua (202) 383-2508

"TEXAS UTILITIES POWER AHEAD ON MEETING RENEWABLE ENERGY GOAL Lone Star State Officials Say It Will Fulfill Law in 3 Years, Not 10; Wind Leads Way

"The state of Texas is well on its way to meeting the nation's most ambitious state goal for the production of electricity from renewable energy sources == wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal == and doing so seven years ahead of schedule, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today.

"The Lone Star State's smashing success in attracting renewable energy-based power plants could have national implications. While the Clinton Administration has been sharply criticized by some Republicans in Congress for energy policies that favor renewables, Texas, AWEA said, is making it clear that renewable energy technologies == especially wind energy == are ready for prime time.

"'In 1999, the Texas legislature approved, and Gov. George W. Bush signed into law, a requirement that the state's utilities install or contract to buy power from 2,000 megawatts of new renewable energy generating capacity by Jan. 1, 2009,' AWEA executive director Randall Swisher explained. 'Last week, the chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas said that goal may be reached by Jan. 1, 2002, fully seven years ahead of time and just two and a half years after the law was passed.

"'A combination of factors have come together in Texas to make this happen: a heck of a wind resource, a drop in the costs of wind energy technology, a well-crafted renewable energy requirement, and non-discriminatory electricity transmission rules. Texas provides a textbook example of what could be achieved nationwide with these 'fabulous four.'"

"(2,000 MW is equal to about 3% of Texas' generating capacity, and is enough to serve roughly 400,000 Texas households with 1 million people.)

"In recent weeks, Texas utilities have made headlines with the announcement of plans for some of the world's largest wind farms:

"Reliant Energy, based in Houston, said Aug. 24 that it will buy power from the 208-MW King Mountain Wind Ranch, to be built next year south of Odessa, Tex. The plant will consist of 160 wind turbines, each with a generating capacity of 1.3 MW.

"Dallas-based TXU Electric & Gas announced July 19 that it would purchase electricity from a 160-MW wind farm, also scheduled for construction next year, that is to be developed by the nation's largest wind energy producer, FPL Energy LLC.

"The Texas law which has led to this burst of activity, involving some $2 billion in new business investment, is a 'renewables portfolio standard (RPS),' which requires that a certain amount of electricity be obtained from renewable energy sources. Utilities are free to decide which energy resource they want to use, and they typically issue solicitations and allow bidders to compete to supply energy.

"A national RPS would work much the same way. The Clinton Administration has proposed to require that 7.5% of the nation's electricity be generated from renewables (not including hydro) by the year 2010, but critics have charged that the goal is unrealistic and will be too expensive. In contrast to these assertions, the Texas RPS is being fulfilled with wind energy capacity that competes well with the cost of new fossil fuel generation.

"Some have asked whether an RPS is needed, given wind's increasing economic competitiveness, but Swisher said it is: 'The RPS has provided the extra incentive that utilities need to seriously look at wind and other renewables. Now that they have, it's obvious that they like what they see.

"'The overwhelming success of the Texas RPS shows that the wind energy industry is ready and able to deliver on the long-pursued promise of clean, inexhaustible, affordable energy from renewable resources. The wind energy industry is proof that economic growth and preservation of the environment can go hand in hand."

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