Growing pains ahead for renewables industry
The Texas Panhandle renewable energy industry appears to be headed toward some growing pains and regulators and producers are looking for cost-effective answers to rising production with limited access to transmission lines.
Sharyland Utilities and Cross Texas Transmission finished the transmission lines going from the Panhandle to metropolitan areas downstate only two years ago at a combined cost of more than $1 billion. Now the amount of wind energy going into the lines threatens to force curtailment of power production to prevent overloading them.
EDF Renewable Energy, a French company that owns at least five Panhandle wind farms, filed comments Monday at the Public Utility Commission saying it’s time to add another line to keep curtailment below 2 percent.
“It is now time to add the second circuit as part of the (Panhandle Renewable Energy Zone) Stage 1 upgrade because the upgrade will enable the cost-effective transfer of 3,904 (megawatts) in compliance with the CREZ standard.
The CREZ, or Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, standard is part of the state legislation that set in motion the building of transmission lines in the Panhandle to ultimately handle 5,584 megawatts.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which controls the grid in most of the state but not the Panhandle, studied the reliability of the existing transmission lines and whether a new line is justified.