Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Friday, February 16, 2018

Why Texas is a Leader in Wind Power

Although Texas has long been a leader in global oil production, the state is also one of the top producers of wind energy in the world. In fact, just five countries produce more wind energy than Texas does. Obviously, the state also leads the nation in electricity-generation capacity from wind, far outpacing the second-ranked state, Oklahoma. These were among the findings in the American Wind Energy Association’s fourth-quarter report that was recently released (here).

Wind Capacity in the Lone Star State

The association’s report also noted that Texas continues to add wind capacity at a faster rate than any other state in the U.S. On a nationwide basis, 7,017 megawatts of wind capacity came online in 2017, about 9 percent more than in 2016. Moreover, wind energy costs fell by four percent last year to $11 billion. This comes on the heels of a two-thirds cost decline between 2009 and 2016. Would you believe that wind energy is the cheapest option in some areas, current tax credits notwithstanding?

"Today, wind is a mainstream integral part of our energy supply and economy," said Amy Farrell, the industry group's senior vice president of government and public affairs.

What’s more interesting is that electricity capacity from wind surpassed coal capacity in the month of December. For the year, wind generated 17.4 percent of Texas’ electricity. Nonetheless, wind farms depend on weather patterns, and coal fired power plants currently produce 54 percent more energy. As developers add wind facilities and aging plants are shut down in the coming year, wind could overtake coal in electricity generation.

Ultimately, Texas installed 1,179 megawatts of wind capacity in 2017, about 17 percent of the nation’s total. Meanwhile, there are more wind projects under construction across the nation, 20 percent of which are in Texas.

The Takeaway

While much of the attention in the media focuses on oil and natural gas production, wind generation continues to gain steam in Texas as well as across the nation. Nonetheless, the development of wind farms as part of the energy mix poses a number of environmental and land use issues. In the end, resolving such issues requires the advice and guidance of experienced energy and environmental attorneys.


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