The U.S. Energy Information Administration, a government run agency responsible for collecting, analyzing and reporting on energy related matters, is predicting that Texas will continue to break records for electricity provided by wind power.
This is not a bold prediction considering that the state has recently put together a string of new all-time highs for wind energy output based on peak supplies of electricity being fed to the state’s grid. Recent record wind days include the following:
- October 22, 2015 – 12,238 megawatts
- October 21, 2015 – 11,950 megawatts
- September 13, 2015 – 11,467 megawatts
- February, 2015 – 11,154 megawatts
There are a number of factors at play that are contributing to the recent all-time highs. This autumn in Texas has been unseasonably warm and windy allowing for the perfect conditions to make use of the state’s large and growing portfolio of wind turbines.
Already the largest producer of wind electricity in the U.S., Texas continues to see more capacity brought online month after month. This is thanks in large part to generous subsidies paid by the federal government to encourage investment in wind turbines.
One could make the case that the continued growth in wind power is due entirely to government subsidies when you consider that during a period in 2013 and 2014 when the subsidies were allowed to lapse, installation of new wind capacity in Texas and the rest of the country virtually ceased. The eventual renewal of the subsidies in 2014 saw an immediate resumption of investment in new wind energy capacity in Texas.
Unlike fossil fuel sources such as coal and natural gas, the production cost of electricity from wind is almost entirely front loaded in the cost of putting up the turbines. After they are up, the incremental cost of each additional watt of electricity is negligible. This, coupled with the bonus money paid by the government for each kilowatt of electricity produced from wind can lead to some very cheap energy for Texas consumers. In many cases, it leads to free electricity.
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