Cost of Electricity in Texas? On a Windy Night, maybe Nothing…..

October 25, 2011

(note: in video above, contrast sound of passing traffic to “noise” of hundreds of wind turbines)

A few weeks ago I reported news of negative pricing for electricity in some parts of Germany, due to “a torrent” of renewable energy flooding the grid.

Is negative pricing coming to America? With the rapid buildout of wind energy, and transmission lines not keeping pace, maybe so.


“For several 15-minute intravals [last Friday] morning, wholesale electricity cost nothing,” Elizabeth Souder of reported last Friday. Interesting, eh? If you’re a regular CleanTechnica reader (or if you read the headline…), I think you can guess why. Yes, wind power being cheap as heck, the wind blowing strong at night, and less electricity demand is the mixture that caused this to happen.

As I’ve said many times on here, Wind.Is.Cheap. Additionally, as I covered earlier this year, wind power is making electricity cheaper.

More from Souder, explaining how cheap wind power can drive the wholesale price of electricity down to $0.00 (and occasionally does in Texas):

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, demand for the state’s grid dipped below 25,000 megawatts. Compare that to the highest demand ever, on the afternoon of August 3, at 68,379 megawatts.

Power generators bid their prices into the wholesale market. ERCOT calls on power plants to turn on as demand rises during the course of the day, calling on the lowest bids first, and then higher bids.

Wind gets dispatched first, because it is the cheapest power generation to operate. So when the wind kicks up, and turbines begin turning, some higher-priced generators may be told to turn off.

On a night when demand is low and wind is high, even some coal and nuclear power units that typically run constantly aren’t needed. It can be difficult to turn those plants back on when they are entirely off, so the owners will make very low bids – even zero — into the wholesale market to keep the plants going at low output.

And that, according to ERCOT market monitor Dan Jones, is exactly what happened on Thursday night.

Over the next two years, the completion of transmission lines will double the amount of available wind power in the state.


Texas set a new record for wind-power output earlier this month as coastal wind farms start to play a bigger role in supplying electricity to the state, the grid operator said in a report.

The amount of electricity produced from wind on the afternoon of October 7 set a record at 7,400 megawatts, more than 78 percent of the 9,400 MW of installed wind capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

That’s well above the average 30 to 40 percent of nameplate electric capacity that wind farms typically produce.

Texas leads the nation in carbon-free electric capacity from wind turbines but wind at the lion’s share of the state’s wind farms in West Texas, built by NextEra Energy and others, generally blows the strongest during the evening hours and in the spring and fall months when power demand is low.

Recent wind-farm additions, now totaling more than 1,200 MW, or 13 percent, have been built closer to the Texas coast, south of Corpus Christi where wind patterns differ from West Texas.

About 15 percent of the record 7,400 MW produced October 7, came from the coastal wind farms, ERCOT said.

Grid officials credited output from the wind fleet for helping meet record power demand this summer during a protracted heat wave and drought.


3 Responses to “Cost of Electricity in Texas? On a Windy Night, maybe Nothing…..”

  1. […] Cost of Electricity in Texas? On a Windy Night, maybe Nothing….. […]

  2. otter17 Says:

    Free is good.

  3. otter17 Says:

    And when more electric cars come onto the grid, they will most likely be charging at night, thus providing a place to store this extra wind energy.

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