Texas Wind Energy – the Wind Rush
Texas: the undisputed king of power in the United States
1901 – The dawn of the greatest consumer era the world has ever known. Spindletop, a small town in east Texas, was at the core of this growth. Two oil men – the Hamill brothers – were young and ambitious. They were known as some of the best in the business. Spindletop’s land was great for farming but lousy for drilling because of the dense, fine sand. It required then-revolutionary technology: a steam engine that drills the pipe through the ground. The brother’s improvised after the walls of the well collapsed from the fine sand soil. Using materials on hand, water, dirt, and cows, they assembled a small herd of cattle to stomp in a small pool and made mud, which was then injected down. This held up the walls. So, they could then drill non-stop twenty-four hours a day.
It was a day that changed America forever. The geyser of crude oil spewed over 200ft into the air. The Hamills were hoping for 50 barrels a day. Well beyond their wildest expectations, the well would soon be pumping out over 80,000 barrels a day. The backers funding the rig earned more than 40 million dollars over night and the United States became the largest oil producer in the world.
Texas Wind Energy
True to its stature, Texas leads the way.
- West Texas State University began wind energy research in 1970 and formed the Alternative Energy Institute. The AEI has been a major information resource about wind energy for Texas.
- In 1999 then-Gov George W. Bush signed a law mandating utilities get a portion of their energy from renewable sources.
And so, Texas became the home of the two largest wind farms in the world. The wind farm in Roscoe, Texas has the distinct honor of being called the largest wind farm in the world, followed by the second largest wind farm located in Nolan County, Texas.
Pros – Wind Energy
Wind energy is a clean, renewable form of energy that uses virtually no water and pumps billions of dollars into our economy every year. Furthermore, wind energy is a drought-resistant cash crop in many parts of the country, providing economic investment to rural communities through lease payments to landowners. It’s an extremely low-cost source of energy.
Cons – Wind Energy
Critics of on-shore turbines say they blight the landscape, create noise and are not cost effective because they depend on government subsidies.
On the Verge of Extraordinary Growth
Wind energy has the greatest potential for fueling our energy needs. Texas leads the United States in installed wind capacity. Indeed, the growth of the wind industry in Texas has exceeded any other state in the U.S. In addition to an abundance of commercial quality wind across the state of Texas and the expected build out of transmission infrastructure, Texas is considered a prime location for wind development projects.
Challenges of Texas Wind Energy Transmission
Wind energy has become the fastest growing source of renewable energy worldwide. Like most renewable energy sources, Texas faced the challenge of power transmission and because of the high cost of power transmission, wind was not an economically-viable domestic energy source. In simple terms, it was hard to get wind power from point A to point B. The challenge in the Texas wind energy market was transmission.
Within Texas – More Transmission Lines (Now) Than Needed
The average price of U.S. wind power is on the decline due to improved transmission lines out of West Texas. Before recent transmission projects completion, only a limited amount of power could get to market in cities such as Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. But with the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone project (CREZ) , there are now more transmission lines than needed. That has enabled developers to sell their power at higher rates and slowed the selling of electricity.
Beyond Texas – Transmission Lines Connecting Texas to the Power Grid in Southeastern States
A California-based energy company, Pattern Energy, announced that it has federal approval to build a transmission line (due to be complete in 2019) connecting Texas to the power grid in southeastern states. The project has the potential to expand the Texas’s wind energy industry by giving it access to another market. The line, which would stretch about 400 miles, would extend from near Dallas into northern Louisiana and then into northern Mississippi. The revolutionary line will allow Texas to share its abundant low-cost wind energy resources with its neighbor states to the southeast, and will remove prior barriers.
Texas has more developed wind power capacity than any other state.
Texas is a big state. We all know that. And Texas – the largest state in the United States, gets almost one-third of its electricity by harnessing the wind. Texas has more wind power than any other state, by a huge margin. And it keeps blowing through these major milestones just about every year.
New Developments in Texas Wind Energy
McCamey, Texas used to be an oil town, but it has transformed into a wind energy town. The Texas legislature declared McCamey to be the “Wind Energy Capital of Texas”. With its ideal location amid the mesas of Upton County, McCamey is in the vanguard of exciting new developments to harness wind energy in Texas.
Google Makes Large Investments in Texas Wind Energy
- $200 million invested in a wind farm developed by EDF Renewable Energy (2013)
- $75 million invested in the wind farm, Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2, in Carson County, Texas (2014)
Google, wrote on the company’s official blog: “It sure is windy in Texas. So windy, in fact, that we’ve made another wind energy investment there.”
The future of Renewable Energy in Texas
Russell Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association envisions a West Texas “where you have solar available in the daytime and on-peak, and wind in the evening and at night. Plus some natural gas backup and probably some large scale storage out there.”
“It’s going to be a very robust system,” Smith added.
You ain’t seen nothing yet
If you think Texas wind power is a big deal, you ain’t see nothing yet. The state is just weeks away from pushing the start button on 3,600 miles of new transmission lines that will bring 18,500 megawatts of wind power from sparsely populated West Texas to urban centers including Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin. Called CREZ for Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, the new lines will make Texas the runaway leader in wind transmission.