Texas Expanding Coastal Wind Power
The state’s electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is praising coastal wind power for helping Texas avoid blackouts during this record setting heat wave. Cyrus Reed with the Sierra Club explains that it’s because coastal winds tend to blow at a different time of the day than West Texas winds.
“The wind in West Texas tends to blow late at night or very early in the morning when we’re using less energy, whereas the coastal wind is more constant and actually tends to blow more in the afternoons when we use the most energy,” Reed told KUT. “It matches up better with our actual use of energy.”
Wind energy is also looking more attractive in this severe drought because it doesn’t require water. Coal, nuclear and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are much more water-intensive energy production methods.
Austin Energy is trying to diversify its portfolio with more wind power. The utility plans to go to city council soon with a proposal to buy 291 megawatts of coastal wind capacity from two wind farms. One site is planned near Harlingen, the other near Laredo. Austin Energy’s Ed Clark says that would be enough to power 90,000 homes over the course of a year.
“The wind farms that we will receive this power from have to be constructed, and they are scheduled to be completed by December of 2012,” Clark said. “The pricing on this wind is very attractive, when we put out a request for proposals we received about a hundred different proposals from about 37 companies.”
“Wind proposals right now are very favorable, this is one of the lowest prices I think we’ve seen wind resources in a long time. So this is a good deal, it comes at the right time,” Clark said.
On a statewide level, ERCOT says wind energy provided about ten percent of the state’s total electricity from January to June this year. That’s up from about eight percent in 2010.