News roundup: Records broken in Texas, wind power competes, California utility hits milestone

28 March 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

As the week draws to a close, we have great news of a new wind record on the Texas grid, a report highlighting wind's competitiveness, and how renewables are achieving big in California.

Texas grid operator ERCOT sailed past previous records this week when it announced wind power at one point provided nearly 40 percent of all the energy on the grid:

  • Wind power on the Texas grid hit a peak of 10,296 megawatts around 9 p.m. [Wednesday] night, setting a new generation record for the industry, according to the state’s grid operators.
  • The record recorded by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas comes as wind turbines get more efficient and more farms connect to the grid through a multi-billion dollar state project to build more transmission lines connecting east and west Texas.
  • This [Thursday] morning wind farms also supplied 38 percent of “all the electricity consumed,” the American Wind Energy Association wrote in a press release. “These records far exceed ERCOT’s old records of 9,681 megawatts of wind output and 35 percent of electricity demand… ERCOT’s record is now the highest megawatt wind output for any U.S. power system.”

A new report shows that wind power competes with some of the lowest-cost forms of traditional generation:

  • The Visualising the Production Tax Credit for Wind Energy study by the University of California and Syracuse University shows wind costing only $0.0035/kWh more than gas when levelised over the 20-year life of a typical wind project.
  • "The true cost of electricity from wind power and natural gas are effectively indistinguishable, yet because the cost of carbon emissions is not included in the market price of gas, wind has not been a competitive form of energy use in most of the United States without government pricing support," said Jason Dedrick, associate professor at Syracuse's School of Information Studies.
  • In the absence of a carbon tax, the researchers claim that the PTC can serve as a stand in, to make the market reflect the true cost of energy.

California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced it is on track to meet its 2020 RPS goals, thanks to a bevy of renewable resources, including wind power:

  • California-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) says it delivered 22.5% of its power from eligible renewable resources in 2013 and is on track to meet the state's 33% by 2020 renewable portfolio standard.
  • PG&E says this marks the first time that its renewable energy deliveries - including solar, wind, biomass, small hydroelectric and geothermal - exceeded 20% for one year and gave the utility a slight surplus for the 2011-2013 compliance period, when renewable deliveries needed to average 20% a year to meet California's renewable energy mandate.

Be sure to check out this week’s other news roundups:

Sources:

James Osborne, “Texas wind farms break generation record.” Dallas News Blog. 27 March 2014.

Patrick Smith, “Wind 'competitive with gas' in US.” Windpower Monthly. 28 March 2014.

Staff, “PG&E Surpasses 20% Renewable Energy Milestone.” North American Windpower. 27 March 2014.