An Embarrassment Of Riches…Blowing In The Wind

Wind power generation in Texas is growing so quickly that it is testing the limits of the state’s electrical grid. The state set a record on March 5 when wind turbines generated 6,272 megawatts of energy, or about 19 percent of the electricity on the state’s main power grid. That peak far exceeded the 6.2 percent average for wind power in Texas, whose 9,410 megawatts of total wind capacity make it the nation’s wind power leader. But wind power’s growth poses a critical challenge for the state’s booming wind industry, which includes a 180-megawatt wind farm completed last fall near Corpus Christi in South Texas. On some days wind turbines are slowed or shut down because the state doesn’t have enough transmission wires to send the energy from remote areas, where wind resources are great, to cities that need it, including Dallas and Houston. The state is planning to spend more than $5 billion to expand and update its transmission system.[1]

I guess this could be why I never seem to be charged the contract max on my electrical bill…For those of you still living in the 20th century of utility companies, Texas deregulated it’s electrical markets quite a while back. Sadly the savings promised by competition(at least if you listened to the proponents) never materialized. Texas electrical rates now rank as some of the highest in the nation. With over half of all electricity coming from coal burning facilities, you are offered the option of paying more for “green” energy. We do and since I signed my last two year contract we have never paid the contractual maximum per kWh. While I appreciated the “generosity” of my retail electrical company, I wondered what was causing their generosity…It’s pretty clear that they are able to purchase power at a cost much less than what they anticipated.

It would seem it would be time to update the infrastructure…Wouldn’t it? Just think…we have the capacity to generate more power without degrading the environment at all, yet we slow or stop the generators due to a lack of transmission capabilities. And, as I understand it, there are more facilities coming online regularly.

So…Does this mean more and more of these units will be operating at lower capacities than they are designed for?

[1] Yale Environment 360: Record Wind Generation Tests Texas’s Transmission System.

Join the conversation...