Texas Leads in U.S. Wind Power Record Year

article image
Photo by Fotolia/Michael Flippo
 Texas leads the nation with 1,291 mw under construction,followed by California (1,022 mw); Kansas (836 mw); Oklahoma(734 mw); Iowa (597 mw); Colorado (496 mw); Illinois (480 mw) and Michigan (472 mw). In total, 10 states areon track to add at least 500 mw of wind this year with Texas,California, Kansasand Oklahomaon track to add over 1,000 mw each. 

The following
information was provided by an Oct. 18, 2012 press release from the
American Wind Energy Association and a Nov. 16, 2012 release from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

In October, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported
that the success of the federal Production Tax Credit and wind energy’s
increased affordability are helping drive turbine installations to record
levels in America.

The U.S.
wind industry in August for the first time surpassed 50,000 megawatts (MW) of
total installed electrical generation capacity – enough to power 13 million
homes. America
has added 4,728 mw of wind power so far this year with another 8,430 mw
currently under construction.

Factors for the strong year so far include:

  • Greatly
    expanded U.S.
    manufacturing, which now makes up to nearly 70 percent of the value of
    U.S.-installed equipment, cutting transportation costs
  • Technological
    advances, such as higher towers and longer blades, which make turbines
    more efficient and further drive down costs
  • The
    fact that more electric utilities are locking in 20- to 25-year contracts
    for lower-priced wind power, to the benefit of their consumers
  • The
    federal Production Tax Credit for renewable energy, which has been kept
    continuously in place since 2005 and currently extends to the end of the
    year

“This is what a successful policy looks like when it’s
working, but whether wind will continue to be a bright spot in the U.S.
economy now depends on whether Congress acts to extend the Production Tax
Credit by the end of the year,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA.

Wind Power Tax Credit

The tax credit incentivizes over $15 billion a year in
private investment in U.S.
wind farms. It currently is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. A proposal to
extend the tax credit for projects that start construction next year won
bipartisan support from the Senate Finance Committee on Aug. 2, as part of an
overall “tax extenders” package. It now awaits action by the full Congress,
expected in its lame duck session after the election.

“We have the bipartisan support to get the job done,” Bode said, “but it is up
to Congress to bring it to a vote or else lose 37,000 jobs by the first quarter
of next year.” That is what Navigant Consulting has forecast will be the job
loss if the credit is not extended.

The year-to-date total stood at 4,728 mw at the end of the quarter, up 40
percent from the same point in 2011. The average turbine size installed
throughout the year continues to hover around 2.0 MW.

Top
states for installed new wind capacity during the third quarter include
Kansas, on track to more than double the state’s wind capacity this year
with 473 mw added; Oregon (333 mw); Texas (281 mw); Oklahoma (229 mw); and
Nevada (152 mw).

  • Nevada’s wind
    project was its first, making it the 39th state with
    utility-scale wind installations.
  • Across
    29 states and Puerto Rico, there are
    currently more than 8,430 mw under construction, a record for this time in
    the year.
  • Texas leads the nation with 1,291 mw under
    construction, followed by California
    (1,022 mw); Kansas (836 mw); Oklahoma (734 mw); Iowa (597 mw); Colorado
    (496 mw); Illinois (480 mw) and Michigan (472 mw).
    In total, 10 states are on track to add at least 500 mw of wind this year
    with Texas, California,
    Kansas and Oklahoma on track to add over 1,000 mw
    each.
  • Utilities
    are locking in more wind power on long-term contracts. Over 80 percent of
    the new capacity coming online or under construction is covered by a
    long-term power offtake agreement, either through a power purchase
    agreement between a utility and a wind developer, or through direct
    utility ownership. In fact, projects online through the third quarter and
    under construction are either owned by or have contracted power with 68
    different utilities.

Texas
Wind Power Leader

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), grid
operator for most of the state, set a new wind record on Nov. 10, 2012.

Wind power output reached 8,521 megawatts (mw) at 10:21
a.m. This represented nearly 26 percent of system load at the time and
surpassed the previous instantaneous record, set the evening of June 19,
2012, by more than 150 mw.

One megawatt is enough electricity to power about 200 homes
during hot summer days when electric use is highest and about 500 homes during
periods of typical consumption.

“We have surpassed previous wind power records several
times this year,” said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT’s vice president of Grid Operations
and System Planning. “While added capacity is one reason for this growth,
experience and improved tools also are enabling ERCOT to integrate this
resource into the grid more effectively than ever before.”

Nearly 7,000 mw of the new record included wind power from
West Texas wind farms, followed by more than 1,100 mw from wind farms along the
Texas Coast.

ERCOT has more than 10,000 mw of wind power capacity, with
nearly 21,000 mw of additional wind generation under review. The completion of
high-voltage transmission projects in Competitive Renewable Energy Zones by the
end of 2013 will improve ERCOT’s ability to move wind power from West Texas to the metropolitan areas where demand on the
grid is highest.

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to 23 million
Texas
customers — representing 85 percent of the state’s electric load.