Texas Meets Renewable Energy Goals 15 Years Early

Texas has reached its goal of having 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity this year, 15 years earlier than scheduled, thanks to an ample supply of West Texas wind.

According to a report (.doc) filed with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) Friday, the Lonestar State has 10,367 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, and generated 21,594,278 megawatt-hours of clean electricity in 2009.

Ninety-nine percent of those megawatts come from wind power. West Texas has some of the country’s best wind resources, and has experienced explosive wind power development since ERCOT’s renewable energy program was signed into law by then-Governor George W. Bush in 1999.

Under the Texas system, each megawatt-hour of renewable energy generated earns a renewable energy credit (a REC) which can be sold separate from the energy. Most utilities in the state are required to buy and use (“retire”) a certain number of such RECs each year.

But what has been surprising about the Texas experiment is that, because that Texas wind has proved so inexpensive, demand has exceeded what the law requires, fueling a voluntary market in renewable energy credits that is now bigger than the mandated market.

Cheap Texas RECs can also be used out of state, and are traded by companies like Green Mountain Energy, which provides clean energy and carbon offsets to individuals and businesses nationally.

In fact, the voluntary market is so successful Texas may do away with the mandated market altogether, according to Roy McCoy, who directs the renewable energy program for ERCOT. “Sometime around 2015 the mandate may go away, and the market will be strictly voluntary,” he said.

The main obstacle to the growth of renewable energy in Texas now is a lack of transmission lines to get the power from sparsely populated West Texas to the population centers in the East. Last year a $5 billion plan to expand transmission was announced which should help ease the bottleneck.

According to a report (PDF) by the Center for Energy Economics at University of Texas, Austin, another 50,000 Mw of wind power projects are being considered by various developers.

When asked why the Texas renewable energy program has been so successful, McCoy said, in his comfortable Texas twang, “the one big thing is everybody is ready to go for this renewable energy stuff, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Hear that, Congress? Straight from the Red heart of Texas. Maybe we can find some compromise on this “climate bill stuff,” too.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

30 responses

  1. Pingback: Texas Meets Renewable Energy Goals 15 Years Early – Triple Pundit | Renewable Energy Analysis
  2. The success of this has nothing to do with environmentalism and everything to do with money. These very same capitalists would fight the climate change bill. I'll explain why. We don't give a damn about coal, that's why we're just fine embracing wind, but when you're talking about something that will effect oil consumption, expect to feel the wrath of some tycoons from Houston.

        1. Libe burning more imported oil. Clearly that's more important because we fight wars so we can do it more.

    1. Kurt, you say “when you're talking about something that will effect oil consumption, expect to feel the wrath of some tycoons from Houston. “

      All the more reason to do something to decrease the use of oil products! Why should we cater to the preferences of those tycoons and their minions who have been riding roughshod over the people and the land of the entire world.

      To hell with them. Onward and upward to more power from renewable sources that will use the talents and the labor of many people. We need to focus on more efficient transportation systems because that is the main users of oil.

      Better, more efficient cars immediately, to be able to morph into plug in hybrids, since there is no way we will eliminate private automobiles in the future. But we need to act on public transportation. Those who live in major cities who have adequate public transport are mostly relieved of the burden of buying and maintaining cars as well as having more time while being transported to use as they wish — to read, chat, or just think.

      We really need to resurrect long distance trains for moving goods, reducing the use of long and medium distance trucks. A long distance train ride is to my mind the most civilized means of travel. You can really see the countryside and get a feel for what a fantastic country we share. I have traveled on a number of long train trips; from Oakland, CA to Miami via Chicago, and from Albuquerque, NM to Boston among them. They much more fun and relaxing than flying would have been.

      So to Hades with the tycoons; I can stand their wrath, and will enjoy the show.

  3. Pretty soon even fighting wars won't help fill our appetite for oil. While Ol' Georgie was having his great war adventure in Iraq China has been going out and buying up and tying up the oil output of countries like Sudan, Nigeria, Venezuela and Iran. They are setting up joint production contracts, building refineries, training local workers and behaving in a fashion that makes them very beneficial to the supplier countries. This ties them in to the countries economy in much better ways than the Anglo and American way of just taking over and quite literally, extracting most of the value.

    We wasted our time as well as a heck of a lot of money and our most precious resource, our people in an adventure that will not have a positive payoff.

    So we had better get to work on renewable energy and improving transportation systems or we might wind up in the equivalent situation of the oil embargo of the '70s.

  4. Now let's look for some better alternative energy sources that do not create massive eye sores on our land.

    Benjamin Koshkin

  5. Now let's look for some better alternative energy sources that do not create massive eye sores on our land.

    Benjamin Koshkin

  6. KEEP YOUR TOWERS and POWER LINES out of my BACKYARD. ITs so typical to create a power soure out in WEST TEXAS and the place you need the energy, according to your article is EAST (EAST TEXAS) and you have to go through MY backyard to get it there. If you are really working to get power to the people, then supply to local grids and systems, and have mid-Texas systems supply eastward grids. BUT, I know, then you lose out on your MONEY TRAIN. GET YOUR TOWERS OUT OF MY BACKYARD. Thanks for listening. johnt

  7. Pingback: Texas Leads the Way in Meeting Renewable Energy Goals « Renewable Energy « renewableenergytoday.info
  8. Pingback: Texas Climate & Carbon Exchange Opens for Global Trading - Worldwide Commodities
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