Another wind power mark falls in Texas By Tom Gray (AWEA)

Texas, which has far outdistanced other states in building wind farms and will likely widen its lead still further over the next few years, set a record Friday (March 5) for instantaneous wind energy generation, as detailed by Kate Galbraith in the New York Times Green Inc. blog.

The record mark, 6,272 megawatts (MW), is about what five million average American homes use (on average), and it amounted to 19% of the electricity being used at the time in the Lone Star State.

Look for more records in the not-too-distant future, as Texas moves ahead with ambitious plans to build new transmission lines to the state’s windy west.

By Tom Gray,

Setting Wind Power Records in Texas

The 6,272-megawatt peak — which does not include wind turbines in the windy Panhandle because that region is on a different grid — surpassed another record, set last Sunday near midday. The state’s overall wind average is significantly lower than these spikes: Last year Texas got 6.2 percent of its electricity from wind, according to Dottie Roark, a spokeswoman for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the grid serving most of the state. The nation as a whole has less than 2 percent wind in its electricity mix.

Texas’s progress in installing wind turbines is testing the bounds of just how much wind the electrical grid can handle. Some turbines are slowed or shut down on windy days because the state does not have sufficient transmission wires to move all the power from the remote, windy areas of West Texas to cities like Dallas and Houston that need it. Last night and this morning, for example, the prices for wind generation offered on the main Texas grid actually fell below zero, a sign of oversupply that usually prompts wind generators to shut down their turbines.

Texas is spending nearly $5 billion to fix the transmission problem. It plans to build a web of power lines that would be able to deliver the wind energy from congested West Texas, home to 89 percent of the wind capacity on the state’s main grid, to power-hungry cities. That process, however, looks likely to be delayed by a recent court decision.