Wind Energy

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.

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.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Texas is not a state known for strong environmental protections. The fact is, many green groups head into legislative sessions more concerned about stopping bills that might do harm than supporting bills that might help.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A lot of what you read in the news boils down to numbers. What's the unemployment rate? How's the stock market? What’s the price of a gallon of gas? When those numbers are wrong, the whole story can be wrong. That’s exactly what appears to be happening with some important numbers from the Energy Information Administration.

KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Global warming and climate change are two oft-used phrases in the conversation about energy production. Much of the time, scientists and reporters present the remedy as “green” energy, such as solar or wind. But there’s a lot we still don’t know about the climate effects of these energy sources.

Texas leads the nation in wind energy production, so it makes sense that researchers from New York would turn to the Lone Star State to study how wind power affects local climates.

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. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Trey Murphy is a grad student in North Carolina, but he has dreams of owning land in West Texas. A few months ago, he was looking at real estate online and came across something strange.

“I saw that there was this particular listing that was selling the surface estate, but not willing to sell the wind estate,” he says.

Robert W. Hart / The Texas Tribune

Energy company Luminant says it’s shutting down three of its coal-fired power plants in Texas by early next year. The sudden closure of so many plants is unprecedented. That's not the only thing unexpected about the closures, though.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas leads the country in wind energy production and, because of the way the state’s electric grid is set up, most of that power stays right here. But a plan that would allow the state to make money exporting wind and solar power is moving slowly. 

Lizzie Chen for KUT

Texas generates more wind power than any other state in the country. It’s a fact that a lot of people in the state like to crow about, but a new federal review of which states use the most wind as a percentage of their total electricity generation has called that into question. Texas didn’t make the top 10.

Wikimedia Commons

Texas leads the nation in wind power, but some environmentalists worry about bird deaths cause by wind turbines – typically, birds fly into the blades of the turbines.

Now, a new approach pioneered by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to decrease those fatalities by trying to calculate the probability of bird-turbine collisions, while recognizing the inherent uncertainty of the phenomenon.

How Denmark and Texas Became Wind Energy Kings

Dec 18, 2014
Terrence Henry/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas:

Standing on the shore of the Baltic sea a few miles outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, the view’s about what you’d expect. Rocky shore, grey horizon, a boat here or there. But this shore is special. Look up, and you’ll see — and hear — three giant offshore wind turbines cutting through the air. Each stands 500 feet tall, with three blades (each close to 200 feet long), spinning non-stop.

“The blades look quite thin, but don’t be cheated,” says Rune Birk Nielsen, with DONG Energy, which runs the turbines. “They each weigh about twenty tons. They are massive.” Each turbine has a capacity of 3.6 megawatts, or enough to power 3,000 Danish homes.

Public Utility Commission

From StateImpact Texas:

We’re all going to be paying for it, so you might be glad to know that a new set of transmission lines to bring wind power from the Panhandle and West Texas to folks in North and Central Texas appear to be off to a good start. According to a new federal analysis this week, the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones power transmission project, also known as CREZ, is already resulting in fewer curtailments of wind power and more even prices in Texas’ energy market.

The project cost $7 billion, a price that will be paid for by tacking on a fee to Texans’ utility bills. On average, your power bill could go up several dollars a month.

Mose Buchele/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas

In the coming years, the federal government wants Texas to reduce its carbon emissions by about 40 percent. With a goal like that, you might expect to see more programs aimed at promoting renewable energy in Texas. But something like the opposite appears to be happening.

Donna Nelson, chair of Texas’ Public Utility Commission, asked last month if wind power generators, not Texas utility customers, should pay for upgrades to transmission lines. The Commission regulates the state’s electric grid, among other things.

Photo by Mose Buchele

By New Year's Day, the network of transmission lines that comprise Texas' "Competitive Renewable Energy Zone" [CREZ] will be fully operational, bringing electricity from wind turbines in West Texas and the Panhandle to points east. Many of the lines are already active (and have contributed to record-breaking percentages of Texas electricity coming from wind), but the Jan. 1 deadline is cause for celebration among those who have long prided Texas' role as a leader in wind power.

Photo by Nicole Hernandez/http://www.flickr.com/photos/txnicole/

World Series

The Texas Rangers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-9 in 11 inning last night. The two are now tied in the World Series, 3-3. That forces a Game 7 of the World Series tonight in St. Louis. This is the first time in nine years that a World Series has gone gone to a seventh and deciding game.

Execution of San Antonio Man

Photo by the russians are here http://www.flickr.com/photos/therussiansarehere/

Texas generated the most wind power in its history earlier this month, as more coastal wind farms come online. On October 7, the state generated 7,400 megawatts of wind power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Fifteen percent of all electricity on the ERCOT grid, which covers 85 percent of Texas, was coming from wind power on that day. The previous record, set in June, was 7,355 megawatts.

Photo by phault http://www.flickr.com/photos/pjh/

One of the great contradictions of Texas is that, while we are the largest emitter of greenhouse gas in the United States, we also generate far more wind power than any other state. Perhaps it’s no surprise then, to find a company pushing to build the largest offshore wind farm in the country is based right here in Austin.

Technically, any offshore wind farm would be the largest in the U.S. That's because none exist yet, even though many projects are in the works. But Austin-based Baryonyx Corporation, with an office in the Littlefield Building on E. 6th St., hopes to construct a 200 turbine wind farm off the Gulf Coast with enough capacity to power 750,000 homes.