Wind Power Assured, with 5 Billion for Transmission Lines

The following news was reported in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Associated Press, and numerous other sources. We thought this article in the Houston Chronicle hit the main points and quote the salient information for you.

This is a huge move forward. This with the investment and plans of the Boone Pickens group assures that Texas will be not only a national leader, but a world leader in wind power. Our firm, now has agreements to distribute wind turbines for consumers and industrial use, that are made in Europe and Asia. We have another agreement to distribute a new wind turbine product that is to be manufactured in the USA, and will hit the market in 2009.

As we have written repeatedly: "The answer is blowin' in the wind!" While the cost of the new transmission lines will add a short term expense of construction, the long term impact will save Texas consumers and the economy billions of dollars. This is a great move forward for Texans for America and the world. BBB

July 18, 2008, 12:27AM

Utility panel approves plan adding 18,456 megawatts of energy capacity

By JANET ELLIOTT Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN — The land of oil and gas is staking a big chunk of its energy future on the Texas wind with Thursday's decision by utility regulators to build nearly $5 billion worth of transmission capacity.

A divided commission selected a plan that will eventually transmit 18,456 megawatts of wind power from West Texas and the Panhandle. That would be enough to power 3.7 million homes on a hot summer day, and more than 11 million in milder weather.

"It's a big bite," said Public Utility Commissioner Paul Hudson. "The transmission plan is nothing short of extraordinary in terms of scope and magnitude."

The commission expects the new lines will be in service within four to five years. As the lines begin transmitting power, residential consumers will pay higher rates that are expected to total about $4 per month when the $4.93 billion in construction is complete.

The rates will be paid by all electric customers, whether they are in the competitive market or served by municipal or cooperative utilities.

The commission will name the transmission providers authorized to build the lines and select the exact routes later.

The plan, which is expected to be finalized later this month, represents a middle ground among five scenarios ranging from $3 billion to $6.4 billion.

The Legislature in 2005 directed the PUC to select the most productive wind zones and devise a plan to move power from those zones to populated areas.

Hudson and Chairman Barry Smitherman supported the transmission proposal. Smitherman said as long as Texas relies so heavily on natural gas to fire its electric plants, "we are going to continue to suffer" from high prices.

But Commissioner Julie Parsley opposed the plan. "I worry about the reliability of the system," Parsley said.

She also expressed concern that Texas, the only state with its own power grid, could lose that status by building lines to wind farms outside ERCOT. The Panhandle and a strip of East Texas are in different grids.

The wind industry is supported by rural lawmakers for the jobs and growth it will bring, and by urban legislators who say that wind will reduce pollution and global warming.

"This puts us on the path toward diversification of our energy sources so that by 2015 we should be reliant on wind for 25 percent," said Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio.

Critics said that because the wind blows less in the summer when demand is highest, additional natural gas and coal-fired plants will need to be built to meet peak demand.

Wind generators had supported even higher levels of transmission, but were pleased by Thursday's vote.

"With the eyes of the nation watching Texas, we have developed a process that will serve as a model for the country as we look to diversify our energy fuel mix," said Paul Sadler, executive director of The Wind Coalition, in a statement.

Although they will pay more to build the wind transmission system, Texas consumers ultimately will benefit from cost savings, said Tom "Smitty" Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen. He said the wind infrastructure also could be used to help develop solar energy.

Houston-based Reliant Energy, one of the state's largest purchasers of wind power, didn't file a position on the transmission issue at the PUC.

With 5,519 megawatts of installed capacity, Texas is the nation's leader in wind power.

Florida-based FPL Energy, which has a significant investment in wind farms in Texas, has estimated that the cost of the new lines will be recovered in 3.5 years, perhaps less.

San Antonio Express-News business reporter Vicki Vaughan contributed to this report.