Wind power in Texas

Wind power in Texas consists of many wind farms with a total installed capacity of 5,604.65 megawatts (MW) from over 40 different projects. [American Wind Energy Association (2008). [ U.S. Wind Energy Projects] ] Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state, followed by California with 2,438 MW.American Wind Energy Association (2007). [ Annual U.S. wind power rankings track industry's rapid growth] ] Wind energy accounts for 3.3% of all the energy used in the state and is growing, while large portions of wind energy produced in Texas also goes to markets in other states. [The Wind Coalition. [ Wind power use in Southwestern States] ]

Several forces are working to the advantage of wind power in Texas: the wind resource in many areas of the state is very large, large projects are relatively easy to site, and the market price for electricity is relatively high because it is set by natural gas prices. [ Wind Riding Favorable Policy Breeze Toward Record Year] "Renewable Energy Access", 5 June 2007.] The wind power industry is also creating many jobs and farmers may earn extra income by leasing their land to wind developers.State Energy Conservation Office. [ The New Cash Crop] ]

The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (735 MW) in Taylor and Nolan counties is the world's largest wind farm. Other large wind farms in Texas include: the Sweetwater Wind Farm, Buffalo Gap Wind Farm, King Mountain Wind Farm, Roscoe Wind Farm, Desert Sky Wind Farm, Wildorado Wind Ranch, and the Brazos Wind Farm. As of 2007, 942 MW of wind power is currently under construction in Texas.American Wind Energy Association. [ Texas Wind Energy Development] ] This expansion will help Texas meet its renewable energy goal of 5,000 new megawatts of power from renewable sources by 2015. [ Airtricity Finalizes 209-MW Wind Project in Texas] "Renewable Energy Access", 16 May 2007.]


Wind power has a long history in Texas. West Texas State University began wind energy research in 1970 and led to the formation of the Alternative Energy Institute (AEI) in 1977. AEI has been a major information resource about wind energy for Texas. [cite web|url=|title=Alternative Energy Institute]

There are many wind farms in Texas, with a total installed capacity of 2,749 MW (at the end of December 2006), and Texas is firmly established as the leader in wind power development in the USA, ahead of California. As of 2007, 942 MW of wind power is currently under construction in Texas and this expansion will help Texas meet its 2015 renewable energy goal of 5,000 new megawatts of power from renewable sources.

The table below lists the larger wind farms in Texas, currently operating or under construction. Wind farms which are smaller than 80 MW in capacity are not shown.

Several forces are driving the growth of wind power in Texas: the wind resource in many areas of the state is very large, large projects are relatively easy to site, and the market price for electricity is is set by natural gas prices and so is relatively high. The broad scope and geographical extent of wind farms in Texas is considerable:

"Wind resource areas in the Texas Panhandle, along the Gulf Coast south of Galveston, and in the mountain passes and ridge tops of the Trans-Pecos offer Texas some of the greatest wind power potential in the United States. Currently there are over 2,000 wind turbines in West Texas alone. Most of the new wind capacity added in the last two years has been in the Abilene-Sweetwater area. The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is the largest wind power facility in the nation with a total capacity of 735 MW. It is spread across approximately convert|47000|acre|km²|0 in Taylor and Nolan County near Abilene."State Energy Conservation Office. [ Texas wind energy] ]

Wind is a variable resource, but with proper understanding it can be readily incorporated into an electric utility's generation mix. Many areas contain areas with winds presently suitable for electric power generation. The number of commercially attractive sites will expand as wind turbine technology improves and development costs continue to drop. [cite web|url=|title=Texas Wind Energy Resources]

Texas farmers may lease their land to wind developers for either a set rental per turbine or for a small percentage of gross annual revenue from the project. This offers farmers a fresh revenue stream without impacting traditional farming and grazing practices. Although leasing arrangements vary widely, the U. S. Government Accountability Office reported in 2004 that a farmer who leases land to a wind project developer can generally obtain royalties of $3,000 to $5,000 per turbine per year in lease payments. These figures are rising as larger wind turbines are being produced and installed.

The wind power industry is also creating thousands of jobs for communities and for the state. Wind technology and the various aspects of producing electricity from wind power can help to keep employment in Texas after the rigs stop producing oil.

Terrorism and industrial accidents can be potential threats to the large, centrally located, power plants provide most of Texas’ electricity. Should one of these plants be damaged, repairs could take more than a year, possibly creating power shortages on a scale that Texans have never experienced before. Coal trains and gas pipelines are also vulnerable to disruption. However, wind power plants are quickly installed and repaired. The modular structure of a wind farm also means that if one turbine is damaged, the overall output of the plant is not significantly affected. [SEED Coalition and Public Citizen’s Texas office (2002). [ Renewable Resources: The New Texas Energy Powerhouse] p. 11.]

A drop in West Texas wind, as well as a failure of several energy providers to reach scheduled production, and a spike in electricity usage, caused supply problems one evening in February 2008. This resulted in interruptible customers being cut off and the threat of rolling blackouts. The American Wind Energy Association has said that technological advances will make it easier in the future to forecast wind energy, and that it would help to locate wind turbines in geographically diverse areas of the state. [Dallas Morning. [ State almost saw rolling blackouts Tuesday night] . 02/28/2008 ]

The wind power boom in Texas is set to outstrip the capacity of the transmission systems in place, and predicted shortages in transmission capability may dampen the growth of the industry in years to come. It is said that until now, the growth in wind power "piggybacked" on existing lines, but has now almost depleted spare capacity. [USA Today. [ Lines lacking to transmit wind energy] .] In July 2008, utility officials gave preliminary approval to a $4.9 billion plan to build new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from West Texas to urban areas such as Dallas. The new plan would be the biggest investment in renewable energy in U.S. history, and would add transmission lines capable of moving about 18,000 megawatts. [ [ Texas Will Spend Billions on Transmission of Wind Power] ]

Large wind farms

Roscoe Wind Farm (781 MW)

The first two phases of the Roscoe Wind Farm in Roscoe, Texas are complete and together generate 335.5 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Once all four phases of the wind farm are completed in mid-2009, Roscoe will be one of the world's largest wind farms with 627 wind turbines and a total capacity of 781.5 MW, which is enough to power more than 250,000 average Texan homes. [ [ E.ON Delivers 335-MW of Wind in Texas] ]

Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (735 MW)

The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is currently the world's largest wind farm with 735.5 MW of installed capacity. It consists of 291 GE Energy 1.5 megawatt wind turbines and 130 Siemens 2.3 megawatt wind turbines spread over nearly 47,000 acres (190 km²) of land in Taylor and Nolan Counties.cite web|url=|title=Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center now largest wind farm in the world|last=Energy|first=FPL]

The first stage of the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center consisted of 213 MW was completed in late 2005; phase two consisted of 223.5 MW was completed in the second quarter of 2006; and, phase three consisting of 299 megawatts, was completed in September 2006. FPL Energy (through its subsidiaries) currently operates Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center.

weetwater Wind Farm (585 MW)

Construction of the Sweetwater Wind Farm has proceeded in five stages and some generating capacity is still being built. Sweetwater stage 4 employs 135 Mitsubishi 1.0 megawatt turbines and 46 Siemens 2.3 megawatt turbines. Its output is being sold to San Antonio’s CPS Energy under a 20-year purchase agreement. Construction of Sweetwater stage 5 began in February 2007, with completion expected by December 2007. Using 35 Siemens turbines, Sweetwater 5 will have a capacity of 80 MW. [cite web|url=|title=GE unit expands wind energy portfolio|last=Energy|first=GE]

Buffalo Gap Wind Farm (353 MW)

Buffalo Gap 1 is a 120.6 MW wind farm located in Nolan and Taylor Counties, about convert|20|mi|km|-1 south west of Abilene. The facility consists of 67 Vestas V-80 wind turbines, each rated at 1.8 MW. The wind farm was developed by SeaWest WindPower and is currently owned by AES Wind Generation. The power is sold to Direct Energy under a 15-year power purchase agreement. [ Direct Energy to Buy 233 MW from AES' Wind Project in Texas] "Renewable Energy Access", 1 September 2006.]

Buffalo Gap 2 is a 232.5 MW expansion of the Buffalo Gap Wind Farm consisting of 155 GE wind turbines, each rated at 1.5 MW. The facility was developed by AES Wind Generation and went into commercial operation in June 2007. The power is sold to Direct Energy under a 10-year power purchase agreement.

King Mountain Wind Farm (278 MW)

The King Mountain Wind Farm is a 278.2 MW wind farm, with 214 wind turbines in rows along the south-eastern and north-western edges of a mesa (tabletop mountain) surrounded by deep ravines.Siemens. [ King Mountain Wind Farm] ] Dust, sand and high temperatures place extraordinary demands on the wind turbines. Consequently, the design was modified for the desert-like conditions, providing additional cooling and protection against wind-blown sand. Annual electricity production is more than 0.75 TWh.

Other wind farms

The Wildorado Wind Ranch is located near Amarillo and consists of 161 MW of wind turbines (70 Siemens Mk II turbines each with a rating of 2.3 MW). These turbines have the capacity to meet the electricity demand of more than 50,000 households. The Wildorado Wind Ranch was developed by Cielo Wind Power, of Austin, Texas, in conjunction with Edison Mission Group of Irvine, California. [ [;jsessionid=F23262664B8EA1414B1AF4D8ABAC31C6?id=44414 Siemens Receives 70-Turbine Order for Texas Project] "Renewable Energy Access", 22 March 2006.]

The Brazos Wind Ranch, also known as the Green Mt. Energy Wind Farm, has 160 wind turbines, each rated at one MW and supplied by Mitsubishi, and was completed in December 2003. The wind farm sells generated power on a long-term basis, to a local power distributor, TXU Energy, to supply approximately 30,000 homes in Texas. Fifty per cent of the Brazos Wind Farm is owned by Shell Wind Energy Inc. [Mitsui. [ Mitsui USA's Advance in Wind Power Generation] ]

The Desert Sky Wind Farm is a 160.5 MW wind farm located near the far West Texas town of Iraan, in Pecos County. The site, visible to travelers on Interstate 10, consists of 107 GE turbines, each rated at 1.5 megawatts. American Electric Power (AEP) owns the facility and CPS Energy of San Antonio purchases all power. [cite web|url=|title=Desert Sky Wind Farm]

The Woodward Mountain Wind Ranch in Pecos County has an installed capacity of 159.7 MW and is owned by FPL Energy. The wind farm uses Vestas V47 turbines, each rated at 660 kW, and the project became fully operational in July 2001. [Renewable Energy Systems. [ Woodward Mountain Wind Ranch] ]

The Trent Wind Farm is a 150 MW wind farm located between Abilene and Sweetwater in West Texas. The wind farm consists of 100 GE wind turbines each rated at 1.5 megawatts. American Electric Power owns the Trent Wind Farm and TXU purchases the electricity produced under a long-term agreement. [cite web|url=|title=Trent Mesa Wind Project]

Airtricity's fourth Texas wind farm, the 126 MW Champion Wind Farm project, recently commenced construction five miles (8 km) from the Roscoe Wind Farm site.

Airtricity North America has officially opened its 124 MW wind farm at Forest Creek. TXU will purchase the electricity generated by the wind farm, which entered commercial operation in March 2007. [ [ Airtricity Opens 124 MW Forest Creek Wind Farm in West Texas] "Renewable Energy Access", 1 June 2007.] The Forest Creek Wind Farm will provide the equivalent of 10 full time jobs during its operation over the next 25 years. [Airtricity. [ Airtricity officially opens 124 MW Forest Creek Wind Farm in West Texas] ]

Future developments

In June 2007, Texas was selected by USDOE to be home to one of two large-scale wind turbine research and testing facilities, which aims to accelerate the commercial availability of wind power. The facilities are expected to conduct blade testing and be operational in 2009.

In July 2007, a joint development agreement was signed, between Shell WindEnergy Inc. and Luminant, for a 3,000-megawatt wind project in the Texas Panhandle. This project will explore the use of compressed air storage, in which excess power could be used to pump air underground for later use in generating electricity. [ [ Luminant and Shell Join Forces to Develop a Texas-Sized Wind Farm] "PR Newswire", 27 July 2007.]

After evaluating the potential for wind-generation in about 25 areas in the state, the Texas Public Utility Commission voted on 20 July 2007 to designate eight zones as the best sites for construction of new power lines to serve more than 20,000 megawatts of proposed wind generation. The eight areas are called "Competitive Renewable Energy Zones". [ [ Texas agency okays 8 zones for new wind projects] "Reuters", 20 July 2007.]

In a bid to block construction of two large wind energy projects on the South Texas coast, an alliance of environmental groups and landowners is opposing the high-voltage transmission line required for the project. However, none of the alliance members owns land where the wind project and transmission line would be constructed, and thus cannot demonstrate a "justifiable interest" in the matter. [ [ Alliance fights wind farm] , "Houston Chronicle", 29 August 2007.]

Transmission Lines

In 2008, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas approved a plan to build transmission lines to carry up to 18,456 megawatts (MW) of wind power from West Texas and the Texas Panhandle to metropolitan areas of the state. The PUC estimates that the new lines will be in service within 4 or 5 years, at which point residential customers will be charged about $4 per month to pay off the cost of the transmission lines. The plan included 6,903 MW of existing or already in development wind power capacity, plus 11,553 MW of future capacity. Additionally, the plan allows for 2,393 MW of wind power to be transmitted from the so-called "Panhandle B" zone, where Mesa Power plans to build the world's largest wind power plant, with a generating capacity of 4,000 MW. The 1,000-MW first phase of that project, the Pampa Wind Project, is expected to go online by early 2011. [ [ EERE News: EERE Network News ] ]

ee also

*List of large wind farms
*List of wind farms in the United States
*Pickens Plan
*Wind power in California
*Wind power in Ohio
*Renewable energy commercialization in the United States


External links

* [ Compressed air storage]
* [ Texas Wind Energy Projects]
* [ Perry Dedicates Expansion of Buffalo Gap Wind Farm]
* [ Texas wind energy]
* [ Wind Power Helps Texas Move Past Oil]
* [ Texas oil tycoon plans largest wind farm]
* [ Wind power experts say Texas grid needs work]

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