Wind is the Future of Energy in Texas
Jan 31, 2017 08:21PM
By Sheila Julson
Many people realize the environmental benefits of wind power: it’s one of the most sustainable, pollution-free energy options available, producing no carbon or emissions. Also, mechanical or production issues with wind turbines don’t result in environmentally devastating spills or accidents. Yet there’s another big advantage of wind power for Texans—savings to the wallet, thanks to the state’s leadership in wind energy advancements.
The U.S. Department of Energy 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, which contains some of the most recent data available, states that Texas is the leader in wind installation capacity, with more than 14,000 megawatts (MW) installed. The report also notes that wind power purchase agreement costs have reached all-time lows. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Texas leads the nation in wind-powered generation capacity, with more than 18,500 MW; and in 2014 and 2015, Texas wind turbines produced more electricity than the state's two nuclear plants.
There are several reasons behind the growth of wind power in Texas. John Spicer, president of Dallas-based Breeze Energy, notes that Texas has a unique, productive and diverse geography that is conducive for excellent wind energy production areas. Texas also has a well-developed wholesale market structure that allows wind developers to easily sell and deliver the electricity generated. The areas best suited for wind are less densely populated, and many ranchers and farmers on those lands are comfortable using it to produce income. The huge infrastructure investment has also benefited school districts via property taxes.
Consumers researching energy cost comparisons will often find wind power as the most budget-friendly source; they can use online tools GeekYourRate.com and EnergyChoiceExperts.com to filter and search for the lowest rates for plans, including 100 percent renewable energy. Breeze Energy currently has a plan available at 7.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for 1,000-kilowatt hours of usage, or 7.1 cents per 2,000-kilowatt hours of usage.
Breeze Energy currently lists the Dallas rate at 7.1 cents per kWh. “Breeze is a growing company, and we try to be very focused on customer value. We don't believe green renewable energy needs be a premium-priced product. We think it should be available at reasonable price to all,” says Spicer. “When you consider that Texas is the number one state for wind production, Texans should reap that benefit, and 100 percent green Texas wind energy is the only thing we sell ,and that promotes efficiency.”
There is political debate around renewable energy and those that express skepticism, but Spicer is optimistic about the future of wind power, noting that the development and construction of new wind farms is still proceeding at a high pace and does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. “Wind turbines continue to become more efficient. Equipment and construction costs have decreased, as well. The wind industry is well-positioned to continue to compete and beat fossil fuels in Texas,” he emphasizes.
The financial industry has also taken notice of wind power’s efficiency. Lazard’s annual Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis report states that for 2016, costs for wind production per megawatt hour ranges from $36 to $51, not including government subsidiaries; a rate lower than coal and natural gas.
Wind power also holds hidden savings to human health and welfare that add up in a big way: wind uses no water, and statistics from the American Wind Energy Association cite that $3.3 billion in annual savings includes key elements such as less sulfur dioxide and nitrogen pollution ($723 million); fewer carbon dioxide emissions (more than $1 billion); and savings against possible fuel price volatilities (almost $61 million).
For more information, call 855-391-9463 or visit BreezeEnergy.com.
Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.