CREZ project powers ahead, aiming to boost Texas wind energy by 83 percent

Construction continues to go forward on the Texas CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zone) transmission buildout, a $5-6 billion expansion of power lines across the state.

The CREZ effort aims to make it possible to deliver 18,500 megawatts (MW) of wind power, enough to power the equivalent of some 4.5 million Texas homes–to population centers. That would be a substantial 83 percent boost to the Lone Star State’s current (end of 2010) total of 10,085 MW of wind turbines capacity installed, a level that already leads the nation by a country mile (Iowa ranks #2 with 3,675 MW of wind farm capacity).

Some portions of the work–upgrades to existing equipment and power lines in particular–have already been completed, and the current projected target date for completion of the entire program is currently December 31, 2013, according to the most recent quarterly report from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT).

Notes the PUCT report, "CREZ projects are primarily designed to move electricity generated by renewable energy sources (primarily wind energy) from the remote parts of Texas (i.e., West Texas and the Texas Panhandle) to the more heavily populated areas of Texas (i.e., Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio).

However, a number of transmission lines designated as Priority CREZ projects also will provide transmission infrastructure necessary to meet the long-term needs of the growing area west of the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Killeen. In addition, more wind energy will be brought to customers, which will displace some need for sources of electrical generation that cause carbon emissions, such as coal and natural gas and further diversify the fuel portfolio of Texas’s generation resources."

By Tom Gray,