Wind power capacity passes coal in Texas
Wind power capacity in Texas surpassed coal last week to become the second-largest electricity source in the “Lone Star State,” according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees 90% of the state’s power grid.
When a 155-megawatt wind farm in West Texas began commercial operation this month, it pushed the state’s wind power capacity to 20,102 MW, surpassing 19,800 MW of capacity from coal-fired power plants, according to ERCOT, the Houston Chronicle newspaper reported.
Natural gas is by far the largest source of power in Texas, supply 45,800 MW of electricity, according to ERCOT.
While ERCOT still gets most of its power from natural gas and coal, wind power generation now accounts for 15% of the power mix — up from just 2%, 10 years ago, Kallanish Energy finds.
The imminent shutdown of three coal-fired power plants owned by Dallas-based Vistra Energy and the loss of their 4,000 MW of capacity will further tip the scales in wind’s favor, Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at the University of Texas’ Energy Institute in Austin, Texas, told the Chronicle.
The shutdown of the Vistra plants are the first retirements of coal-fired power plants since Texas deregulated power markets in 2002, the Chronicle reported.
“We are used to seeing wind numbers add, add, add,” Rhodes said. “We are not used to seeing coal plants’ numbers decreasing.”