Texas Remains A Leader In Wind Energy
People in North Texas experienced their second White Christmas in recent years last month. The strong winter front brought more with it than just cold and snow. It also brought enough wind to help the state set another record for wind-powered electricity. At one point 8,638 MW of electricity was being produced by wind turbines and fed into the state’s electricity grid. This is enough electricity to power 4.3 million homes during average demand period. The output eclipsed the previous state record set just the month prior.
No other state in the union even comes close to matching the wind energy capacity of Texas. In fact, when compared with other countries Texas would be among the top wind energy producers in the world.
There are a number of factors that have gone into the success of the Texas wind energy sector. For one thing the expansive geography of west Texas seems tailor-made for wind farming. The deregulated Texas electricity market creates a great incentive for energy producers to invest in wind turbines. This is especially true when you factor in the generous subsidies that have been long offered by the federal government to encourage investment in wind energy. The federal government has spent billions of dollars through the years paying energy companies for every kilowatt sold to electricity grids.
2012 was a particularly busy year for construction of wind energy project across the country. This was because, after decades in existence, the federal subsidies were due to expire at the end of 2012. Any project that began producing electricity before the clock struck midnight on December 31st was eligible to receive the tax subsidy for the next several years. Understandably, there was a mad dash to beat the clock.
It was widely feared that congress would fail to extend the tax credits any further in light of the "fiscal cliff" drama going on in Washington. However, a last minute one-year extension was included in the fiscal cliff package passed by congress.
Expect the Texas wind energy sector to continue to make up a larger and larger portion of the states' electricity portfolio in the years to come.
[Image courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/therussiansarehere]