Solar Energy

A wind farm on the Texas Gulf Coast
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

For the first time ever, wind has surpassed coal as an energy source in Texas. 

Data released this month by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas shows wind created 22 percent of the electricity used in the first half of the year, edging out coal by 1 percentage point.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Solar power continues to grow in Texas, new research finds, and that growth is due in part to another renewable energy the state has in abundance: wind.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Facebook is building a massive solar farm in West Texas that's believed to be one of the largest solar projects in the nation and the social media giant's first direct investment in renewable energy.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Wind power in Texas is often seen as one of the state’s great success stories. It’s grown so much in the last 20 years that the state now leads the country in the amount of electricity it generates from wind. Experts say that’s brought the price of electricity down and helped reduce air pollution.

But wind is facing a lot of opposition this year at the Texas Capitol. The fight centers around subsidies and incentives that have helped grow the industry here.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In East Austin – just east of Airport Boulevard and a short drive from downtown – you’d rightly expect to find a new crop of houses going up. Instead, you'll find La Loma Community Solar Farm.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

When Billy Whipple was learning carpentry as a young man in New England, he got some strange advice about from a veteran carpenter.

“He had his old beliefs that holes [in houses] were good; they got you fresh air,” he says. “Now we’re so sophisticated that we manage the air.”

Austin Price for KUT

At a new 28-home development in East Austin, workers for Lighthouse Solar pull solar panels from the back of a trailer, haul them to a ladder, and then carry them 30 feet up to the recently shingled rooftops where they'll be installed.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Texas' energy industry is in flux.

The state's seen recent closures of three coal-powered power plants, as the state market shifts toward renewable sources like wind and solar energy. And, on the national level, the state's former governor is lobbying to extend a hand to the nation's struggling coal and nuclear industries.

KUT's Mose Buchele spoke to Jennifer Stayton about what the closures mean for Texas' energy industry and about this week's rejection of a plan from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to subsidize nuclear and coal power. 

Mose Buchele / KUT

Scott Canada says his company had big plans this year for a 100-megawatt solar farm outside Fort Stockton, Texas.

“It would have been built over the next 18 months,” says Canada, senior vice president of renewable energy for McCarthy Building Companies. “It generally would have probably employed 300 to 400 people at its peak, depending on how tight the schedule was being compressed.”