For the most part, the wind power industry is doing well in Texas.
Wind power in Texas was mostly a curiosity in 2000 when the state first opened its wholesale electric markets to competition. About 300 turbines were spinning away in rural West Texas, creating a mere 200 megawatts of power.
Today the state has 5,300 megawatts on line, 25 times more than in 2000 and enough power to light more than 1.5 million homes.
Texas topped ecofriendly California as the largest wind producer in the U.S. in 2006 and is on track to pass some countries in installed wind generation in the coming years, including giants China and India. With another 44,000 megawatts in wind projects on the drawing board, the forecast is for continued growth for years.
But challenges, both economic and environmental, may be looming.
The capacity to move power from West Texas' growing fleet of wind turbines to the state's energy-hungry cities is tapped out, leaving many turbines idle.
Solving the problem will require spending billions of dollars to build hundreds of miles of new transmission lines, the costs of which will be shared by all Texas electric customers.
There are other issues, of course, including the continuing fight over the Kenedy Ranch wind farm project. Overall, though, I feel pretty optimistic about the future of wind power in Texas. As it happens, there's a big conference on wind energy going on at the George R. Brown Convention Center this week, the Windpower 2008 conference - you can see its first newsletter for the event here. Among the speakers will be CD07 candidate Michael Skelly, who knows a thing or two about the business; he'll be joined by Gen. Wesley Clark at 11:30 AM on the second floor of the GRB to discuss energy and national security issues. That ought to be cool. Details are here (PDF); other conference and speaker information can be found here. Check it out if you can.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 02, 2008 to The great state of Texas