Wind could be ERCOT's hero again this summer

Texas, the state with overwhelmingly the most wind power, will likely call upon increased generation from the wind again this summer. A recent report from the Brattle Group revealed that ERCOT investment is stalled at the same time the state population and power demand continues to increase.

This has already led grid operators to announce that this summer could be plagued with rolling blackouts, akin to summer 2011. In the Brattle Group report, analysts suggest that ERCOT should allow power prices to rise sharply in order to give companies more incentive to build new generation.

In August of 2011, ERCOT praised the wind industry for helping avoid blackouts as temperatures in the hundreds covered the state. Typically, ERCOT only expects about 800 MW of power to come from the 10,000 MW of wind capacity installed statewide. But wind’s contribution last summer ranged from 1,300 to 2,400 MW during peak demand.

Not only is wind able to fill a generation void in the state when necessary, but it is also unaffected by water shortages, which plague forms of generation that depend on cooling towers. According to the Texas Water Development Board, power generation consumed 700,000 acre-feet of water in 2010. One acre-foot is equivalent to 326,000 gallons.

Texas State Representative Drew Darby, who spoke at WindPower in Atlanta, Ga. on June 5, said that wind generation will continue to grow in the state as a result of the state’s Competitive Renewable Energy Zones. “We expect 12,000 MW of wind power in Texas by 2014.”

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