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Texas stays in front on wind

Texas stays in front on wind

The state added 3,615 megawatts of wind power overall last year out of 8,598 new megawatts nationally, according to an annual year-end report by the American Wind Energy Association.

One megawatt is typically enough to power about 500 Texas residence during mild weather conditions and 200 homes during peak demand.

And the Texas trend shows no sign of ending. A majority of the wind-power capacity now under construction is in the Lone Star State, the report said. More than 5,000 megawatts of wind power are being built or nearing construction in Texas, compared to less than 4,400 megawatts in the rest of the country.

“Texas continues to lead, continues to have a stronghold in the industry,” said Hannah Hunt, senior research analyst for the wind association and the report’s co-author. “The intensity of construction is still being focused in Texas.”

But, she added: “It is fair to wonder how long this can continue.”

At the end of last year, Texas accounted for nearly a quarter of the country’s wind power with 17,713 megawatts of power in operation, compared with 74,472 megawatts nationwide.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which regulates about 90 percent of the state’s power grid, oversees 16,000 megawatts of that wind power. It expects the grid to have about 21,000 megawatts of wind capacity by the end of this year, based solely on projects that have financing lined up.

After $7 billion in power lines through much of the Texas Panhandle came online in 2014 to connect wind farms to the state’s more populous regions, the wind industry in Texas has surged. A recent extension of the federal production tax credit for wind projects is only expected to add more.

Wind power is so bountiful in Texas that ERCOT has even seen negative power prices recently during periods of strong wind overnight when there is little demand for power. ERCOT counted a record 13,883-megawatt peak for wind power load on Dec. 20. Wind power made up nearly 45 percent of the grid’s entire power load at one point that day.

While growth is continuing, power prices may eventually shrink to a point that new wind projects no longer make sense, said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT director of system operations.

Read full article at The Houston Chronicle