Texas Finishing Up Transmission Lines to Double Energy From Wind

In April we reported that Texas would be able to double the wind energy that’s delivered to its cities because of a $6.8 billion investment in new transmission lines – now we hear the project is just weeks from being finished.   

The transmission project will bring the energy to all the state’s major cities from wind farms far in the western, windiest part of the state under its Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ). 

Nearly 3,600 miles long, the transmission lines will be able to send 18.5 gigawatts of wind across Texas –  50% more than the state’s current capacity.

The build-out has already spurred huge investments in wind projects since it was approved in 2008, because developers know their will be markets for their energy. 

Wind Farm Texas

Houston’s recent wind energy purchase  – enough to supply half its electricity for the next two years – makes it the largest municipal buyer of renewables in the US. 

While other states have transmission projects – particularly Minnesota – they often struggle getting them off the ground because they cross state lines and therefore face conflicting regulations. In Texas, the lines are all in-state where there is only one grid regulator.

Some 21 GW of new wind projects are currently being reviewed, including a 1.1 GW plant which would be community owned and the largest in the US. That project would actually exceed the limits of the new transmission system.

"When we look back on the investment in CREZ, it will be one of the most visionary investments the state has ever made," Jeff Clark, executive director of the Austin-based Wind Coalition, told San Antonio Express.

Texas leads the nation in installed wind capacity, which grew 18% last year, adding over 1800 MW for a total of 12.2 GW in more than 40 projects. Wind supplies 9.2% of all electricity generated in the state. It’s also #3 in the country for the green jobs, with 227,532 in 2012.

Still, Texas emits more than double the carbon of any other state (Indiana is #2) because many of the biggest industrial polluters are there – petroleum refineries, chemical plants and power plants, according to the EPA. 

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