Texas wind power transforming oil country

The Houston Chronicle business section had a nice spread Monday on BP Wind Energy and how the international oil giant is transforming a piece of the "oil patch" into "one of the nation’s leading hubs for green energy production."

Adds reporter Simone Sebastian, "Skylines dominated by nodding pump jacks are increasingly spotted with spinning wind turbines," and perhaps more to the point, "Economies tied to the ebb and flow of commodity prices are finding stability in supplying the power grid."

She quotes Pecos County Development Director Doug May: "We’ve been through lots of booms and busts with the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas areas deplete over time. The wind resource here is sustainable. We look at these wind farms as a long-term investment in the future of Pecos County.”

According to ERCOT (the Electric Reliability Council of Texas), which operates the utility system that supplies power to most of Texas, wind energy generated 8.5 percent of the electricity on the system, last year (reaching 25 percent of instantaneous supply and above on a few occasions), and Sebastian says that BP sees renewable energy continuing to grow rapidly during the future.

The company has spent $1 billion so far to develop four large wind farms in the state, the article says, and Sebastian makes clear that for west Texas, a lot is riding on whether Congress renews the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC). On that topic, she quotes AWEA VP of Public Affairs Peter Kelley: "“You could double the amount of wind power coming out of West Texas. That’s a lot of economic development that could be lost. It has really changed the economies of a lot of communities out there.”

Tom Gray, www.awea.org/blog