Wind Power Scoring Big for Texas Renewable Energy
The energy ground continues to shift beneath our feet. Huge advances in power generation are leading to major distortions in energy markets. A major example is Texas where utilities are actually giving people energy for free overnight, no catch. It works to reduce load off the grid so the utilities don't need to build power plants and it all comes from the success of wind farms. And with solar building quickly there too, this trend is only going to accelerate. In other words, it's all about smart energy management now and finding savings rather than a traditional grid approach. Here’s the excerpt from The New York Times:
DALLAS — In Texas, wind farms are generating so much energy that some utilities are giving power away.
Briana Lamb, an elementary schoolteacher, waits until her watch strikes 9 p.m. to run her washing machine and dishwasher. It costs her nothing until 6 a.m. Kayleen Willard, a cosmetologist, unplugs appliances when she goes to work in the morning. By 9 p.m., she has them plugged back in.
And Sherri Burks, business manager of a local law firm, keeps a yellow sticker on her townhouse’s thermostat, a note to guests that says: “After 9 p.m. I don’t care what you do. You can party after 9.”
The women are just three of the thousands of TXU Energy customers who are at the vanguard of a bold attempt by the utility to change how people consume energy. TXU’s free overnight plan, which is coupled with slightly higher daytime rates, is one of dozens offered by more than 50 retail electricity companies in Texas with a simple goal: for customers to turn down the dials when wholesale prices are highest and turn them back up when prices are lowest.
It is possible because Texas has more wind power than any other state, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the state’s generation. Alone among the 48 contiguous states, Texas runs its own electricity grid that barely connects to the rest of the country, so the abundance of nightly wind power generated here must be consumed here.
Wind blows most strongly at night and is inexpensive because of its abundance and federal tax breaks. A shift of power use away from the peak daytime periods means lower wholesale prices, and the possibility of avoiding the costly option of building more power plants.
“That is a proverbial win-win for the utility and the customer,” said Omar Siddiqui, director of energy efficiency at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit industry group.