Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Wind energy goes big in Texas

Check out any old Western movie and you’re bound to see tumbleweeds rolling across the open prairie. One thing we learned from those old films is that beside cowboys and Indians, outlaws and sheriffs, two other things that Texas had, and still has a lot of, is open space and wind. The open space gave rise to a booming cattle ranching industry long ago, although it has been suffering recently from a drought that has cost farmers and ranchers billions. The move to exploit the state’s abundant wind resource came more recently. They did that through the construction of massive wind farms. We tend to associate renewable power with liberals and environmentalists, not something you’d expect to see a lot of in oil- and gas-rich Texas. But it happened anyway. It didn’t just happen, of course. Strong state government incentives somehow survived administration changes that went from liberal Ann Richards to conservatives such as George W. Bush and Rick Perry. It’s a model that few other states have followed, although many more could benefit from. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, Texas has six of the 10 largest wind farms in the nation. The largest, some 220 miles west of Dallas, is the Roscoe Wind Farm, which also happens to be the largest in the world. It consists of 627 turbines, spread across 100,000 acres that produce 781.5 MW. That’s enough electricity to power 265,000 homes. But Roscoe is one of many wind farms. Altogether, 11,592 wind turbines currently are installed (likely more by the time you read this) in Texas with a combined capacity of 20,321 MW. In the year ending in October, wind power was responsible for 12.68 percent of the total electricity production in the state. That’s a record...more

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